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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Gunelson Fitness and Nutrition: An Intuitive, Home-Based Approach to Staying Fit

Mar 29, 2014 09:40AM ● By Michelle Hamburger

For the last 10 years Brigitt and Matt Gunelson have lived in a gym. Nearly half of the Gunelsons’ Golden Valley home is dedicated to a private, personal training business, Gunelson Fitness and Nutrition (GFN). Both Matt and Brigitt are certified personal trainers and offer a wide range of fitness options from their home-based training facility.

A former personal trainer for an area fitness club, Matt struggled with the style of training he was expected to use because he thought the philosophy didn’t make sense. “Clubs wanted you to work everyone as hard as you could, to make it unbearably miserable, so people felt like they could never do it without you,” he says, adding that clients would get to the point where they dreaded training sessions. “It shouldn’t be miserable,” he explains. “You should be able to find enjoyment out of exercise.”

At GFN, the training philosophy is for clients to do the least amount of work necessary to attain their goals. “You don’t get better results from working out longer,” Matt says. “People will go from sitting on the couch straight to working out six days a week for hours at a time. You’re going to be super sore and you’re body’s going to be upset. It can actually create worse results because people overtax their systems.”

Instead, the Gunelsons focus on intensity, keeping workouts short and allowing adequate time to warm up and cool down. “You do need a warm-up and you do need to stretch, otherwise you can hurt yourself,” Matt says. “When you strength-train, you shorten your muscle fibers and they tighten up. We want to bring them back to normal.” Cool-downs include hands-on stretching to enhance muscle recovery and reduce soreness. “Sometimes clients’ favorite part about the whole thing is being able to cool down and stretch,” adds Brigitt.

Many people are hesitant at first to try working out in a home-based gym, but over time GFN’s clients often prefer the privacy and individualized attention they receive. “Clients don’t have to worry about anybody watching them do the exercises because it’s just us and them,” Matt says.

In addition to personal weight training, GFN provides personalized aromatherapy sessions, nutrition counseling, yoga and Pilates classes, partner training, boot camp and inversion therapy.

GFN’s newest service is online fitness planning. Web-based clients can train at home, or take routines with them to their local fitness centers. “We designed online training because we wanted to help more people than we could train in-person,” Brigitt says. “At some point we will hit a ceiling with the number of clients we can take but we still want to help people.”

As a home business, GFN can offer training sessions for new mothers with their newborn babies present. “The last time I checked, most gyms don’t allow newborns until they’re 3 months old,” says Brigitt. Matt adds that this particular time is when women are most motivated to do something. “This is when they have the time to do it,” he says. “They’re usually not working because they’re on maternity leave. They may be self-conscious, but it’s just us in here so it’s not a big deal and if they need to stop and tend to their child they can do so.”

Additionally Brigitt and Matt are proud of their growing senior citizen clientele. One client, a 73-year-old gentleman, came to GFN because he was injured after slipping on ice and wanted to rebuild his strength and stability. “He has gotten so incredibly strong over the last year that he now snow-blows five neighbors’ driveways every snowfall,” Matt says. “It’s just insane. You can build muscle at any age.” The Gunelsons say new studies have shown elderly clients regenerate muscle faster than younger clients do because of muscle memory, which is a great reason for older individuals to weight train.

Owning a home training facility allows the Gunelsons to connect with clients in ways they never could have in a standard gym. They see their clients as their friends. “Working from home, we make it a lot more personal,” Matt says. Brigitt believes it’s one of the main reasons their business has been so successful. “When we’ve interviewed clients who have stuck with us for years, asking them why they’ve stayed, it’s the one-on-one relationship,” she says. “It’s so key to what we do.”

Gunelson Fitness and Nutrition is located at 1720 Wisconsin Ave. N., Golden Valley. For more information or to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, call 952-944-7125 or visit

Michelle Hamburger can be reached at [email protected].

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