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Celebrity Trainer Gunnar Peterson

Fitness Is Our Common Ground

Gunnar Peterson is a household name when it comes to the fitness world, with a sprawling client list as diverse as his training methods. After more than three decades in the industry, training universally-recognized names from professional athletes to Hollywood celebrities, and his gym’s lease ended in Beverly Hills earlier this year, it was time for a change.

Gunnar, his wife, Jess, and their two youngest children decided to flock southeast to middle Tennessee for myriad reasons, including their oldest daughter’s enrolling at Duke. Gunnar and Jess had visited the area many times over the previous couple of years, but now they were on the clock. 

They fell in love with the breadth and space that Tennessee provides, after many years spent in the city. Beyond the space to spread out, he also adores the added sense of family values that raising kids here fosters. But Gunnar isn’t new to the south: he grew up in Houston, Texas, attended college at Duke, and lived in New Orleans. Gunnar’s parents have called Tennessee home for a decade — living on a farm outside of Memphis, so the call was natural for the celebrity trainer to move back to be near them, and for them to spend more time with their grandchildren.

Unfortunately, as happens too often in life, things didn’t go according to plan. One morning in the spring, Gunnar’s fitness-minded mother went for her usual mile-long swim but was hospitalized later that day before slipping into a coma, and heartbreakingly, passing away. For anyone who has lost a parent, specifically a mom, that loss deeply changes people. Gunnar says, like most, he isn’t yet able to comprehend such a sudden, life-changing loss, but the motivational trainer has already let this loss teach him what’s important in life.

"I had a good friend at the Lakers say 'There’s no crying on the yacht,' and for me, this rings especially true now. We are so lucky, blessed even, in this life, the small stuff just doesn’t matter. The real problems are things like your mom being sick, losing her, and all of that small stuff just fades away," says Gunnar.

Truly, not sweating the small stuff and appreciating the time he has with his father just three hours away and his family, are key to Gunnar as he settles into life in Williamson County.

Since moving to Nashville on July 3, what he calls a personal "Independence day" and celebration of freedom and room to breathe, Gunnar laughs, he's been quick to make his own stamp on Nashville's fitness community in addition to his worldwide wellness thumbprint. He serves as Chief of Athletics for F45, while the father of five also recently set up shop renovating a space in Cool Springs, a gym he's named Common Ground TN.

"Fitness should always be our common ground. Whether we agree or disagree on the world's larger issues doesn’t matter, we can all find common ground in improving ourselves."

Currently, it's Gunnar and one other trainer, Collin Schoen, working one-on-one with clients for private sessions. Once the gym's expansion is complete, Common Ground TN will staff four full-time trainers focused on training with an athletic bent and added functional components centered around body composition, performance, and overall quality of life.

Spending a trio of decades helping people improve their lives, in addition to private training, Gunnar has offered workouts on DVD since the early 2000s, including his Core Secrets DVD series and the Best Ever Hollywood Workout DVD. He also wrote a best-selling book, titled G-Force in 2005, about training and creating a positive mindset and created exercise machines the Bottom Line, The RAC and Hoop Hands.

“I’ve been in this industry for 31 years…24 of those years owning a gym. The people who come through my door come from a broad demographic. Different socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, ages, religions, and aisles of the political arena. Yet they are able to train hard, side by side, chit-chat, and fist-bump after the last set. That is their common ground."

Gunnar had a quote displayed in his old gym, one he says he'll also add to the new walls once they finish the expansion at Common Ground TN:  "Everything you do inside the gym makes everything you do outside the gym better." He emphasizes that the time spent in the gym improves mental acuity while decreasing absenteeism in the workplace, and at the same time increasing resistance to illness, disease and injury, all the while improving all relationships and self-confidence. "It all means you carry yourself differently, which means people see you differently, which positions you to be more likely to succeed in all aspects of life. That, is the common ground. We can all be in the same space doing our own thing, and it works beautifully."

"Anytime people are in the gyms, there is a mutual respect, a shared end goal of self-improvement which lends itself to all aspects of your life being better," - Gunnar Peterson.