Confucius described the theme of these interviews when he said, “If you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life.” It’s fair to say that this statement is a description of our guest this evening, who created an entirely new and effective system of fitness as an expression of his love for what he does. As a physical fitness trainer, Gudni Gunnarsson realized the limitation of physical exercises without the psychological component.



A lifelong student of yoga, Gudni developed Rope Yoga, a revolutionary fitness system for mind, body, and spirit. This stress-free approach inspires people to love their bodies and to enjoy the exercises as they work toward a higher level of conditioning. Rope Yoga is the foundation for what Gudni calls Gló, which is comprised of three components: Gló Motion, a fitness program using the body’s own weight in a dynamic series of exercises; Gló Cuisine, a nutritional program based on nourishing intent; and Gló Lifestyle, a program designed to achieve success, joy, and harmony, including a seven-step transformational process, envisioning a life vision and goals.




CHRIS ATTWOOD: As you know, the title of this series is Passions of Real Life Legends. Would you share with us how your passions, the things that matter most to you, led you to create Rope Yoga and the whole system that you call Gló?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: Yes. To tell you the truth, initially, it was my fear and scarcity that led me to create what I did. Sometimes when I’m asked, I tell people that in the beginning when I started helping people, if an old lady would have asked me to help her cross the street, I would have carried her. Then people ask me why, and I usually say my insecurity at the time led me to use other people to justify my existence.



As you grow and mature, you realize that you’re really not helping anybody unless you help them walk. Gracefully and gradually, I came to the realization that it’s all about creating space for people to grow. One thing led to another. Looking back at the past 25 years, I’ve been operating on passion. You read Confucius’ statement about never having to work a day in your life, and that’s been very true for me.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Beautiful. Tell us the story of how Rope Yoga and the Gló system first came to be. How did you get inspired to create this, and how did it come about?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: Initially, I started by being a fitness enthusiast myself and educating myself in various aspects of fitness. Then gradually what I did was I opened up a private studio in Iceland. I was actually the first of what they call personal trainers in Iceland. I opened up a studio and hired a couple of professionals to train. I realized soon after that most of the people who were attending fitness classes and wanted to get stronger were operating from fear and lack. That wasn’t really my approach.



I wasn’t a professional trainer at the time myself, but I decided to educate myself to my utmost. I started doing yoga, went to the States, did Kripalu yoga for a while and educated myself in various aspects of fitness: the Alexander Technique and yoga. The reason for me was that I discovered at some point that if you’re only operating from one aspect of your being, especially out of fear and scarcity, then your physical body may be addressed, but it’s only addressed to create separation instead of unification.



To me, fitness and wellbeing was much more than just lifting weights, running, or doing something. It was about equilibrium, unity, and prosperity. Gradually, my education and quest led me to various aspects that I then started practicing and delivering to my clients. Gradually, I came to the realization that there would have to be a complete system of lifestyle instead of just one aspect of movement or exercise.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: You’ve gotten quite a lot of attention and publicity for Rope Yoga, yet I know Rope Yoga is just part of a larger system that you call Gló. Will you talk to us about what Rope Yoga is, how it relates to Gló and the different components we mentioned in the introduction? How does it differ from other forms of fitness routines?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: Yoga means unification. The yoga most of us know is called Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is a posture-based yoga. It does, of course, involve spirituality and meditation, but most of it is posture-based. Most of the people who go to yoga classes will recognize yoga as being some form of postures. Yoga really has nothing to do with that in the essence of it.



The true essence of yoga just means unification, to be present and aware. When you get to a point of realizing that you’re not your mind, but you’re a spirit or energy, then you have to some degree achieved this unification. You’re completely in your body in the present moment. Yoga as an inspiring approach to physical fitness and for allowing Westerners to come into their body was a challenge to us.



If we look at us, it’s been 25 years in the making. At that time, yoga wasn’t as popular as it is now. What I wanted to do is combine the aspects of movement and physical fitness with the process of awareness, breath, and spirituality so that one could unify through other aspects of motion, not just postures and Hatha. Then I came to a very interesting realization.



In Rope Yoga, we use a pulley system to help people relax their legs and use their legs as leverage to activate the abdomen. What most people don’t know is that the legs are the foundation for your being, and the quadriceps in the front and the hip flexors have a lot to do with how you posture yourself. Also, if you look at the sternocleidomastoids, which is the neck muscle, they have an energetic effect on hip flexors.



If you can’t relax your legs as you do abdomen work, then you’re engaging those hip flexors, and therefore not the abdomen but the lower back. I came up with this pulley mechanism that allows people to actually relax their legs into a harness and relax the weight so gravity helps you activate the deep core of the abdomen. The reason for that is twofold. One is to get people into their abdomen, to strengthen their core so that they relieve their backs and therefore no longer hold back.



The second aspect of it is what we call metabolizing life. Metabolizing has to do with not just metabolizing nutrients, but ideas and energy. In essence, each and every one of us has a certain amount of energy that we can either devote or invest in whatever we want to create. For instance, we’re going to talk about intention. If we have an intention, the degree and intensity of that intention is going to be based on our passions and how much energy we have to devote to that passion. If your body is not a mechanism of prosperity and energy, then you are going to be limited by that.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: That makes sense. Will you talk to us about the relationship between Rope Yoga and Gló?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: In Iceland, Gló is spelled Gló. In the States we spell ‘glow’ with a ‘w’. Gló means to be enlightened, illuminated, and constantly on and lit up. When I was working in the States I had a company we called Fully Life Coaching, and I had five coaches working with me who I had trained. We were operating from the premise of prosperity consciousness.



We were also basing Fully Life Coaching on the seven steps of prosperity, from which I created the mission for Rope Yoga. Then again, the most effective we were was when we were able to help our clients achieve the balance between mind, body, and fitness aspects, meaning that all of our expressions in life have to be in balance. I realized that if I wanted to help somebody achieve prosperity and wellness, we had to deal with all aspects of it, not just the mind, body, or nutrition.



In essence, we wanted to create something that could encapsulate all of the aspects of delivery. As you said in your presentation, it’s about nourishing and the cuisine. When you get into the description of the nourishing and cuisine, what I’ve created is something called nourishing intent where I help people realize that what you’re nourishing and the intention that you’re nourishing is far more important than what you actually eat.



We have the nourishing aspect of it, and we have the mindful fitness aspect of it, which is the body. Then we have the lifestyle and spirituality. Gló Motion became the foundation or complete delivery. We call that the Gló Lifestyle.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Okay, I’ve got it. I know that in the US, as we mentioned in the introduction, there have been some rather famous celebrities who have been attracted to Rope Yoga. What was it that drew people like Brandon Routh or Kim Basinger to pick up your system and begin using it? Do you know?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: If we speak about Brandon Routh, it was actually his producer, Gil Adler, who requested my services. Gil is a very large man, not by weight but by spirit. Brandon was very young when he was chosen to take on the role of Superman. What Gil wanted to ensure was that he would be trained in the fullest capacity, and that he would be delivered onto the set in a frame of mind, spirit, and body that would represent Superman.



Gil Adler had worked with me, and he came to me originally because of some serious back pain that he relieved himself of completely with the help of Rope Yoga. He understood the approach, and he just asked if I was able and willing to life-coach and train Brandon to the full capacity. A similar thing happened with Kim Basinger in her role in “8 Mile.” If you remember, there was a movie that she did with a rapper.



In the movie, she was supposed to be partially naked. Her managing agent requested my services. It’s not that she wasn’t gorgeous all the time, but she was supposed to be extra gorgeous for the movie. That’s why I worked with her. More or less, all of these celebrities or individuals, whoever they’ve been, have been referred to me. I really haven’t advertised much. People who know of my services know that if somebody is working with me, it’s full-capacity. There’s nothing left out.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Wonderful. I know that there are seven steps that comprise Rope Yoga. Will you talk to us about what those are and why they’re important?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: Absolutely. The most important aspects of Gló Motion and Rope Yoga are these seven steps. It’s the philosophy that I created. Obviously, I’ve drawn upon other philosophies. The first step is awareness, to awaken to the reality that we are not our minds, but we are spirit, an energy, and a soul. It’s the beginning. I usually ask people, “How much pain does it take to awaken?”



What does it take for us to realize that where we are is because we have brought ourselves there? It sometimes has been our repetitive behavior and our patterns that have done so, but at some point all of us have an opportunity to awaken. In general terms, most people get three or four opportunities to have this awakening. Some call it enlightenment.



It can be a brief enlightenment where all of a sudden you realize that there’s an essence to you that’s much more than just your mind, perspective, or view. Usually, as I said, it takes a large experience or some kind of discomfort, such as divorce, bankruptcy, or even disease. Once you awaken, then you have the opportunity to go into step number two, which is called responsibility. The word ‘responsibility’ is one of my favorites.



It means the ability to respond. Until we awaken to the fact that we are creators, we are what I call accidents. We are disabled. The moment, on the other hand, we do awaken and decide to become responsible, then we can sustain a level of awareness and presence. There’s a trick to this, on the other hand, because responsibility is not available to any of us unless we decide or choose to forgive ourselves.



Forgiveness, interestingly enough, is probably the largest metabolizer that the human body becomes acquainted with. Once we forgive ourselves, we relieve ourselves and we discontinue in the charge of electric or invested energy in the past.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Explain what you mean by ‘metabolizer’. You said forgiveness is a metabolizer. Can you just talk a little bit about that?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: Metabolizing is very interesting. Maximum metabolizing is based on space, oxygen, and fuel. If all of this is in balance, then we’re metabolizing our lives. You know because of your passions that inspiration and passion is a flame. It’s like life is a flame in itself. Unless we forgive ourselves and relieve ourselves, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, we never have the space for anything new.



We never have the real space for combustion and energy that’s required to create new worlds. Forgiveness is not available. We can only forgive ourselves. We do not have the power to forgive others, although we can work with forgiveness in others. Spiritually, nobody has ever done anything to us but bless us. Physically, they may have done something to us, but spiritually, it’s all about energetic interconnectivity and destiny.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Wonderful. We went through responsibility. What’s the third step?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: The third step is probably going to be one of your favorites. It’s intention. Intention is a large word. We have another word for intention in Icelandic. It means to saddle the horse. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to ride. Inside the third step, intention, we know that with intention we have to follow through with goals and action. In my system, intention holds purpose, vision, and goals.



I say that purpose is the rudder or foundation for our desires and happiness. My statement is that you cannot sustain happiness or passion without purpose. A lot of the work that I do with my clients is to help them define their delivery of purpose. I tell people, my clients and my audiences, that purpose is the essence. The purpose of people in general, the population at large, is to discover free will.



The individual purpose of a person is love. Then the question is how you express that love. What becomes your way of expressing love? Love is light and the essence of transformation. The reason I’m emphasizing this right now is that a lot of the work out there is based on goal-setting and intention, but I believe that purpose is the primary foundation. That’s where we have to begin.



The goals that are set without a committed purpose are like a dog chasing its tail. Once you catch your tail, you have to let it go. A lot of people who I have worked with or seen work with goals are delivering an excuse for absence instead of the ability to be totally present, realizing that our goals happen in the moment, not at the end of the destination.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: What’s the fourth step?



GUDNI GUNNARSSON: The fourth step is commitment. The fourth step is commitment, and Goethe said until there is commitment there is hesitancy. Commitment in my system is revolutionary because prosperity is based on worthiness. Again, if we refer to goals, whatever we achieve in life, if we don’t feel worthy of it, we cannot sustain it.



A lot of people have attracted a lot of attention, a lot of energy, and a lot of money, and have actually harmed themselves and their environment. We want to become attractors who can metabolize the success that we attract. The degree of our ability to metabolize success is going to be based on how worthy we feel, and how worthy we feel is going to depend on how honest we are in general.



If we talk about honesty, people often ask me, “What does it mean to have willpower or discipline?” I say it only means telling the truth. Discipline really means that you say something and you abide by it. It has nothing to do with the consciousness; it only has to do with honoring your word. Commitment is all about honoring our words and making ourselves completely available for whatever intention, goal or purpose we declare.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: What is the fifth step?


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For more information about Gudni Gunnarsson and his work, please go to
www.RopeYoga.com.