Rocky Balboa may be the most iconic fictional fitness hero there is.
Since first making his leading man mark with the character over four decades ago, Sylvester Stallone has been in a perpetual state of training, and now he is putting in work at the Beverly Hills gym of fellow fitness pro Gunnar Peterson (who trains a number of celebrities and athletes, and serves as the director of strength and endurance for the Los Angeles Lakers) for his return as Rocky in the highly anticipated new film Creed 2.
At Peterson’s gym, you may catch the 71-year-old actor ripping pull-ups with a 100-pound weight strapped around his waist. “Sly wants to get in, get after it, and get out,” says Peterson. “There are so many demands on his time right now because he is writing and starring in the movie, that there is an efficacy that he is looking to get out of his workouts.”
Stallone’s airtight sessions go for an hour each, usually four times a week. And though his regimen is solid, he is never afraid to try something new. “For the guys that have been in the game as long as Sly and I have, there is full-on fitness ADD that comes in,” Peterson says.
Combating that means constantly introducing modern movements and technology to Stallone’s already tried-and-true routine. One of the actor’s favorite new toys, for example, is the SMARTfit machine, a cognitive training tool that utilizes Stallone’s favorite sport: boxing.
“Boxing is obviously a huge part of his life and his training,” Peterson says. “He has built a lot of muscle, but it is important for him to keep his athleticism.” Another new tool for that is the Power Tower from Synergy Air, a climber that uses air compression to up resistance. “He jumped on there and was just cranking away,” he says. “The guy doesn’t know how to stay still, whether it comes to reps or new challenges.”
Meanwhile, Peterson still believes in the old-school methods. “There will always be free weights, cables, sleds, and ropes in Sly’s training,” he says. “One of our usual rounds is having him push the sled, then pump out a bunch of push-ups between pushes.”
And even though his client list includes some of the fittest stars in the business, Peterson says he can’t help but be impressed by Stallone. “The way you look like that at that age is you never stop getting after it,” he says. “You have to keep your foot on the gas. It doesn’t have to be on the floor, but it has to be down.”