For the Leadership Edge, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Gunnar Peterson and Dr. Rutland.
Gunnar Peterson is a Beverly Hills-based personal trainer to a wide range of celebrities and professional athletes. Gunnar is the former Los Angeles Lakers’ Director of Strength and Endurance. He is widely recognized for his expertise in functional training and his commitment to developing and implementing innovative fitness techniques. With over 28 years in the fitness industry, Gunnar’s dynamic approach, boundless energy, and sense of humor only add to the effectiveness of the experience his clients enjoy. With a client list as diverse as his training methods, Gunnar emphasizes strength training modalities that can be transferred from the gym to daily life and from training camp to championship game. He has worked with athletes from the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, USTA, professional boxing (male AND female!), and various NCAA sports. Many film and television celebrities have also sought Gunnar’s guidance in preparing for roles and have stayed on to become year-round clients, making him a cornerstone of their fitness regiment. Gunnar is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a graduate of Duke University.
Cedric “Jamie” Rutland, M.D., is triple board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care. He completed medical school and an Internal Medicine residency at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, Iowa, and then moved to Kansas where he completed his Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowships at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Among other things, Dr. Rutland is an expert in asthma, COPD, ILD, EBUS, Navigational Bronchoscopy, and vaping. He serves Orange County and Riverside, CA working for West Coast Lung. As a national volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, he is passionate about community education and speaks frequently about pulmonary diseases.
Q&A with Gunnar Peterson
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Gunnar: I kind of fell into my career after someone asked me to train them. From there, I started building clients through referrals and before you know it personal training became my full-time job. For me, it was a great fit and I am always pushing myself to learn new techniques to make sure I can help as many people as possible.
What do you stand for? What are your life philosophies?
Gunnar: Great question. I stand for family, country, and health and fitness. My life philosophy really comes down to finding something you enjoy that works for you that doesn’t infringe on other people’s life philosophies and pursuing it with everything that you have, every single day.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Gunnar: The first would be to make sure that you strike a good work-life balance. I don’t think that is something I have always been good at, but it’s something I am getting better at each day. The second would be to get more sleep. Rest and recovery are huge pillars in health and wellness and when we are busy that can go by the wayside. Finally, I would say enjoy your meals. It seems intuitive, but it wasn’t something I was as aware of in the beginning. When you have your cheat meal or go off your diet plan, enjoy it and let it go. Don’t let it consume you – just enjoy it and let it go and I think that will help you in the long run vs. being overly critical of yourself.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people and why was it important for you to get involved in the LungZone program?
Gunnar: As a personal trainer, I got involved because I spent my life focusing on people and on their physical wellbeing. For many people with asthma, exercise can seem intimidating, especially when you are worried about having an asthma attack. But staying active is important, and certain exercises can help people focus on their breathing in a positive way. Getting in shape is not something that happens overnight, and that’s true for lung health too. First and foremost, I tell people to talk to their doctor before exercising. Once a doctor gives you the green light, then I encourage people to walk before they run and use the resources that are available to them to help them achieve their goals.
One resource I recommend is Sanofi and Regeneron’s LungZone, a program that aims to guide people with moderate to severe asthma toward better lung health.
I also have some upcoming work with F45 Training which is a global workout company. I am really aligned with their philosophies and really like that they design their classes for all levels so anyone can do it.
How do you stay active and keep your lungs strong with asthma?
Gunnar: A good way to keep your lungs strong, whether you have asthma or not, is to make sure you incorporate cardiovascular work into your routine. Of course, you want to pay attention to your body, and make sure you are progressing but not pushing it too hard or too fast. A good example is trying out resistance training where you can see yourself progressing to get stronger, more flexible, and more fit from a cardiovascular perspective whether it’s short bursts or longer durations. Your goal maybe just to get up and get off the couch three times in one day, while someone else may have a goal to run a half marathon. It doesn’t matter what the goal is — the key is that you have a plan, and you do something on a regular basis so that it becomes a habit. Sporadic workouts will help you check the box, but they won’t get you to your end goal. Consistency is key.
What are your tips on posture and breathing, especially working from home?
Gunnar: Good posture and breathing is something we can all relate to, particularly now with so many people working from home and sitting at a desk all day during the pandemic. When you think about your posture, you want to think about a spoon running down your spine. The goal is to sit up tall, pull your shoulders back, keep your chest high enough that you can fit your fist between your chin, and focus on diaphragmatic breathing versus shallow throat breathing. From a stress management standpoint, breathing can be extremely helpful and we know that stress can often trigger asthma symptoms. I would also encourage you to check out Kelley Green’s Breathe Mindfully class that helps you open the muscles that support your lungs through diaphragmatic breathing.
How can the exercises from your virtual class help improve lung health?
Gunnar: My Get Moving class on JoinLungZone.com breaks down three exercises focused on the chest and back to help people living with asthma stay active and prioritize their lung health. The exercises I walkthrough can be adapted for anyone. One example is push-ups with a t-raise that can help get the heart rate going and strengthen the pectoral muscles, which are important when inhaling and exhaling. This isn’t meant to be an ominous task that you dread. We want you to enjoy the class and help it put you on a path toward better lung health. I chose these exercises because they can be adapted for people of all fitness levels, including those with moderate to severe asthma.
Q&A with Dr. Rutland
How does someone know if they have asthma? What are the signs and symptoms?
Dr. Rutland: Asthma is a chronic disease in which your airways narrow and swell causing inflammation, which makes it hard to breathe. If you are having symptoms like wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath and you don’t feel good when you go outside or you avoid it altogether because of the grass or allergies, then you likely have asthma. The challenge is that many people may think they have their asthma under control when they actually don’t. People often think that rest will help them relax and they will feel better, but it really comes down to the chronic inflammation that they are experiencing.
How is asthma treated?
Dr. Rutland: Asthma treatments can vary based on the person and severity of a person’s disease. We must first establish that asthma is a chronic disease that is a result of the presence of inflammation. As a doctor, I want to calm that inflammation down. You can use an inhaler that allows the muscles in your airway to relax and stabilize so they always can stay open. If inflammation persists, or if an individual has a specialized type called type 2 inflammation, we can treat it with Dupixent® or dupilumab. Dupixent is an add-on maintenance treatment for people aged 12 and older with moderate-to-severe eosinophilic or oral corticosteroid-dependent asthma. In clinical trials, Dupixent improved lung function in as little as two weeks and helped reduce asthma attacks by up to 81% when compared to standard of care alone plus placebo. However, it may not be right for everyone, particularly for those who are allergic to it or its ingredients. Dupixent can also cause serious side effects, including allergic reactions, so you should also talk to your doctor to find what works for you.
Why was it important for you to get involved in the LungZone program?
Dr. Rutland: As a pulmonologist, I have a passion for the immunology of asthma. When I say immunology, I mean the types of white blood cells that are present in that airway. It’s something I love to talk to my patients about and teach them, and it is why I joined LungZone—which you can learn more about at JoinLungZone.com— because it’s a place where patients and their family members can go for information about their asthma and take steps towards better lung health. The lungs are fundamental organs, and when we take steps to prioritize our lungs, we’re really taking action to better the breathing process in a very real way. You can check out JoinLungZone.com, watch my ‘Help Manage Your Asthma’ class, and learn about ways to help maintain your lung health.