12 Easy (& Effective!) Fitness Hacks From L.A.'s Top Celeb Trainers

Photo: Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images.
We all know that fitness and healthy eating should be a way of life. Even so, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to amp up your routine before a summer wedding, beach getaway, or any other event that calls for feeling extra fit and healthy. But, there is a right way and a wrong way to jump start your fitness come summer.

So, we turned to a few of L.A.’s top celebrity trainers for their tips. To be clear, we’re not talking seven-day juice cleanses or spending four hours each morning in the gym — just simple tweaks that yield big benefits. And according to A-list fitness pro Harley Pasternak, there’s an added bonus to giving your workouts and nutrition a little boost: You’ll get a self-confidence bump as well.

"Confidence comes from taking control of the process,” he says. “Success is: Did you eat well today? Did you get enough sleep? If you’re doing the right things, looking and feeling better will come.”

We'll toast (then crunch) to that. Ahead, a dozen tips to take your routine to the next level.
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Expert #1: Gunnar Peterson
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Photo: Courtesy of Bauer-Griffin.
It’s a total myth that carbs are the enemy; we all need them for peak brain and body function. Peterson recommends eating them both before your workout —“I want my clients to have something in the tank so they can get the work done” — as well as afterwards. “Post-workout is when you need to make sure to get all of your macronutrients like carbs, protein, and fats, so the body can repair and replace what was just broken down,” he says. Just be sure to stick with whole grains instead of the heavily-processed variety.
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Good news for those of us who can’t stand the sight of a treadmill — when it comes to toning and building strength fast, Peterson says there’s one clear workout winner. “Weight training is always the way to go!” he exclaims, “The metabolic effect will serve you post-workout more than anything else. Don’t wait on the weights!”
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Short on time? “Combination moves with easy transitions are always my go-to,” says Peterson. Some of his favorite full-body sequences, which he recommends doing for 30-60 seconds and repeating, include “push-ups to mountain climbers to plank; squats to tuck jumps to bicycle crunches; and side lunges to bench dips to leg raises off the bench. Keep it moving to keep it burning.” The best part? No equipment is required, so you can do these moves anywhere.
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“When you are exercising, you are losing electrolytes, which affects your performance negatively,” says Peterson. (Electrolytes are minerals — calcium, magnesium, and potassium among them — that affect hydration, muscle function, and other bodily processes.) Since pure water doesn’t have electrolytes in it, we have to get them from other sources. “I tell my clients to drink Propel Electrolyte Water to replenish what is lost when you sweat,” says Peterson (a spokesperson for the company).
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“Looking your best isn’t about what you do in the gym; it’s about what you do the other 23 hours,” stresses Pasternak. “I give all my clients a Fitbit (from $59.95) and I make sure I can track how much they move each day. You should try to hit a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, ideally more. If someone has to kick it up for an event, I have them up their steps to 12,000 or 14,000. It makes a difference.” City dwellers can hit this mark easier than most, but if you live in L.A., try parking a little farther from your destination when you drive somewhere, or take a spin around the block at the end of your lunch break (checking your Instagram can wait).
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Drinking lots of water isn’t just good for your skin and your energy levels; it also reduces cravings for foods that aren’t so good for you. “People often mistake dehydration for hunger. I tell my clients to make sure they’re getting at least three liters of fluid a day,” Pasternak says. “Ideally you’re drinking non-caloric beverages.” The good news: Coffee, in moderation, is fair game.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bauer-Griffin.
Ditch the excuse that you don’t have time for a daily sweat session — Pasternak says you only need ten minutes and one move to see results. “Pick one exercise for each day of the week that hits a different body part, then do 4 to 5 sets of 20 to 25 reps,” he advises. “You don’t have to think about it in terms of an intimidating workout.” A few of Pasternak’s favorite no-equipment-required bodyweight exercises include reverse lunges for the buns and the “Superman” for back strength.
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“I’m big into yogurt — the calcium has been shown to increase the rate at which we metabolize fat, and there are two proteins in there, casein and whey,” says Pasternak. He likes Siggi’s for its low sugar and high protein content, and recommends noshing on it between meals with a teaspoon of peanut butter and some raspberries.
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Expert #3: Ashley Borden
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Borden is a big fan of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, particularly an approach called Tabata in which you do an exercise at max intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds. “You can do burpees, sprints, riding a bike, jump squats — anything that involves your entire body,” she says. “It’s super-intense, but it will make a big difference in your body.” For extra assistance, Borden suggests a stopwatch app called Round Timer; she also debuted her own HIIT DVD program earlier this year.
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One of Borden’s biggest nutrition pet peeves? “Most people are still caught up in the idea that ‘fat makes me fat,’ which is totally not true,” she says. “Fat helps keep you satiated and prevents blood sugar spikes.” She always keeps raw, unsalted almonds on hand to eat as a between-meal snack or to pair with a piece of fruit (preferably some kind of berry). She adds that a quarter of an avocado or quarter-cup of seeds can also work as a quick and filling snack fix.
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When clients really want to dial up their workouts, Borden has them wear a weighted vest. “They’re an awesome way of amping up whatever it is you’re doing in a really safe way that’ll help you burn a lot more calories,” she says. “It’s a great way of adding a huge burst, when you’re hiking or if you want to walk laps in the pool.” Her go-to: Ironwear’s 10-pound Speed Vest.
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“Your body gets so locked up in any position you’re in all the time — whether it’s standing or sitting at a desk — that certain [related] parts of your body won’t respond to exercise,” says Borden. She has her clients give themselves foam-roller massages every day, which she says gives them “better mobility, a better metabolic rate, and deeper muscle contraction, which leads to more definition.” Borden recommends this roller for beginners, and she created a free downloadable guide to help anyone get started.
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