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An RVer’s Guide to Getting and Staying in Shape

First of all, let’s get one thing clear: I could stand to be in better shape. I’m not a fitness expert, but I do care about my health, and I like to exercise. You know, so long as it doesn’t hurt too much.

Trying to get and stay fit on the road can be harder than you’d think. On one hand, there are endless opportunities for exploration right outside your door. Wanna go hiking? Plant yourself next to a national park or forest. Enjoy Zumba? Most towns offer drop-in classes.

But at the same time, RVs present some unique challenges. They seldom leave enough space for lunges or wild dance moves. And they limit how much weight we can carry, which means leaving the Bowflex at home. (Do people still use those? I’m having flashbacks to commercials during my Nickelodeon days.)

So what can RVers do to maximize their chances to get exercise?

Huffing and puffing up a trail in Washington

1. Apps and Videos

There’s a wealth of exercises out there just waiting for you to try, and many of them are available in app and video format. Take your instructor with you anywhere — all you have to do is bring your phone. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Power 90 DVD series and its more advanced companion, P90X. Okay, yes, it’s cheesy. But we’ve done this workout series off and on for years and really benefited from it.
  • Zombies, Run! is an app for those of us who need a little motivation to run. You’re part of a band of survivors, and while you run in real life, you’re picking up virtual supplies for your friends and avoiding the ZOMBIES!
  • Couch to 5K is an effective way to go from a life of not-jogging to running a 5K in 9 weeks. (More weeks than 9 if you’re me. But hey, it’s the effort that counts, right?)
  • Yoga Download is a great website for yoga fans of any level. It was recommended to us by Lynn of Tales from the Mutiny, who is a certified yoga instructor and really knows her stuff.
Exercise anywhere — even from the top of the trail!

2. Bodyweight Exercises

You don’t have to own a home gym to be able to exercise in your house-on-wheels. Go for exercises that only require your own bodyweight for resistance, plus maybe a few standard household items.

Our favorite is the Seven-Minute Workout, which you’ll definitely feel — trust us! All you need to complete this workout is a chair (or a rock), a wall (the side of your RV) and seven minutes of your time.

We also like the Bodyweight Training: You Are Your Own Gym app, which features a ton of exercises, some of which don’t require any equipment.

3. RV Park Resources

Some RV parks offer fitness perks like swimming pools, weight rooms and even classes like water aerobics and dancing lessons. There are often horseshoe pits and open areas that can be used for Frisbee and playing catch.

We’ve also stayed at parks that had disc golf courses, mini golf courses, shuffleboards, kayak launches, fishing ponds, tennis courts, and more. If nothing else, the rows of wide roads make a great place to go walking and jogging.

RV park disc golf time!

4. Head Into Town

Cities all over the country have gyms, community fitness centers, and studios for yoga, martial arts, dance and more. Many of them allow drop-in visitors, and gyms often offer great introductory rates (like FREE). Take a class, meet some cool locals, and get your heart rate up.

5. Visit America’s Most Treasured Places

Our national parks, national forests, state parks and other public lands are full to bursting with trails for hikers, bicyclists, trail runners and more. The best thing about this tactic? You’ll be so amazed by your surroundings, you won’t even realize you’re getting exercise.

Sweat? What sweat? That’s Mount Rainier!

6. Buy Some Gear

Your treasured freeweight set may put your RV over its weight limit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some workout tools in your nomadic arsenal. Here are some that we recommend.

(We don’t own the specific items linked in this list; these are just ideas.)

I also just learned about water weights: free weights that you fill with water. That way, they weigh virtually nothing when they’re empty, and fold down to take up very little space.

One more tip: If you suffer from knee pain or just want to be able to hike farther and longer, one of the best investments I have made is in adjustable aluminum hiking poles. They saved me from some nasty spills on a snowy hike in Flagstaff.

In retrospect, crampons would have been a good investment.

What other methods of working out do you use at home or on the road?

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