Hollywood's Top Trainer Shows Us What a Hotel Gym Can Be

Nothing's worse than walking into your hotel's gym, only to discover it's nothing more than a dusty treadmill in a closet-sized room. But there's good news: The world is getting more fitness savvy every day, and hotels are starting to get with the times. So when the Dream Hollywood hotel was looking for a partner to build a state-of-the-art fitness facility for its guests, it turned to Gunnar Peterson, mastermind behind the physiques of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Hugh Jackman (among a ton of others).

“My principle has always been to train smarter, not harder,” Peterson says. “Get in. Get after it. Get out.”

You just signed on as the Director of Strength and Endurance Training for the Los Angeles Lakers. How's the gig so far?

I think there is a whole revitalization that comes with the work that Rob [Pelinka] and Magic [Johnson] have done there. There is an incredible amount of promise with this team. There is so much great, young talent there. They are strong, athletic, and super fast. They’ve only been training down in the new facility for little over a month. We are in the weight room four days a week right now. On any given day I will have up to nine guys in there, and when you consider how early it is, that is incredible. That is an impressive amount of dedication. Everyone encourages each other. I think they are building something special.

You train a bunch of Hollywood folks too, right? Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson seems to post to his Instagram from your gym pretty regularly.

Listen, he is the hardest worker in the room. You see what he does on social media, and for the troops, and onscreen. He is always the hardest worker. He truly raises the bar for everyone else. ... I just try to stay out of his way. [laughs]

This new project with the Dream Hollywood hotel reimagines what a hotel gym can be. How are most hotel facilities lacking now?

The fact is people are demanding more of their gyms. These days everyone is more fitness savvy. I don’t want people to have to fall off their training when they are on the road. The majority of hotel gyms have many a barbell rack, but if you're really trying to get an effective workout in, and get out the door, you need to concentrate on big, full-body movements. Those exercises are going to burn body fat and maintain your strong lean tissue.

What makes Dream Hollywood's gym stand out?

They let me add machinery that I believe should be in every gym. I was really excited about putting in a custom-built squat rack. Not many hotel gyms have even a basic squat rack. This one is built by Sorinex, which does racks for the military and for a lot of professional sports teams. Also, I love to box when I’m on the road as well. There is a boxing machine called Nexersys that has pads that move not only in and out, but also to the side, so you can work on your hooks and leg kicks. Then we put in a heavy bag, which I don’t see enough of. There are a lot of people dedicated to boxing and mixed martial arts, so that can’t be ignored.

How do you like to train when you're traveling?

I like movements that are high-yield when I travel. I want to put out the most amount of energy in the least amount of time. I’m not looking for my clients to live in the gym. Make the gym work for you.

Is there one movement that you would recommend that every guy adds to his traveling regime?

So in fitting with that high-yield mentality, I really enjoy the squat with a twist and press. So you are taking two dumbbells, as heavy as you can go without compromising form, squatting with them, then doing a twisting movement to one side while you simultaneously press up. Then back to the squat and do the other side. Doing a few sets of those really engage the whole body.

Check out a full program from Peterson on the Men’s Journal Facebook page here.