When I thought about healthy living in an RV – I thought that somehow all the things I struggled with about exercise in a traditional setting would magically disappear.

Like somehow waking up in an RV would motivate me to work out each morning…or that exercising outside would invigorate me with newfound energy…or that having a small little tiny kitchen would motivate me to eat healthier????? Literally can’t even explain that one.

You probably know where I’m going with this by now – much to my dismay, all the challenges of staying healthy in a stationary home are still the exact same when you live and work in an RV full-time. They do not go away.

But what IS it like staying healthy in an RV? 

CHALLENGES

Well, first off, let’s get this out of the way – it’s definitely possible – so don’t throw your hands up in the air and give up on the idea just yet. But let’s get into the nitty gritty of the challenges of exercising on the road.

The Weather

This is actually one aspect I thought was going to be great. But I didn’t take into account the fact that sometimes it rains or it’s cold in the mornings and evenings or, as we found out in the west, it’s windy AF and sand is blowing everywhere. Turns out, the weather and elements can put a real damper on your morning routines.

Outdoor Space

I thought that all campsites would be even and on solid ground, but the truth is – campsites can often be unlevel, muddy, made of gravel, have tree roots all throughout your space – all of which makes it tough to safely do any sort of cardio or agility workout. Imagine doing sit-ups when you’re ever so slightly slanted to one side on the ground or doing chest presses if your back is uneven side to side making one side higher. Or doing skater bounds on gravel where your footing can easily slip. Or doing jumping jacks with tree roots underneath your feet. Bottom line – the ground beneath you on campsites is often anything but ideal for outdoor workouts.

The Smells

This may seem like an odd one, but it goes both ways – good smells and bad smells. Very very bad smells. You’re may be working out when your neighbors are cooking bacon in the morning, or burgers at night (the unofficial official smells of a campground). Or it may go the other way and your neighbors may be out for their early morning cigs so as you take that deep inhale your yoga instructor tells you to, you may get a lungful of smoke. Or if you’re extra lucky, the smell of actual shit will be in the air as you’re sucking wind during your cardio workout. Some campgrounds just have the perpetual smell of grey and black tanks in the air.

Bugs

Another unexpected one (for me, anyway). I know at least one person will roll their eyes at this one and be like “yeah, duh. You went out into nature – of course there are gonna be bugs”. But here’s the thing – trying to hold a tree pose while a mosquito sticks its blood sucker into your neck is a much more realistic view of what it’s actually like to work out with bugs outside. Or when you’re laying down doing chest presses with weights in your hands and suddenly realize that other things that are on the ground with you include fire ants and spiders. Obviously when you travel to as many states as we do, you’ll see a wide range of insects both flying and crawling, and all I’m saying is it’s harder than you’d think to get a good workout in when you’re worried about being bitten or swatting flying things away from your eyes.

THE FUN PARTS

It’s not all dread and doom when you consider taking your fitness game to the road. There are also the cool parts about working out on the road!

 

Changing the Place

We make a point to go find local parks every time we go to a new campground. Once we find a cool park with lots of open space, I use my Beachbody on Demand app with a cool tripod stand that sets up in seconds and I can just pick a spot in the grass to do my workouts! If I need weights, well luckily I use select-a-weights and keep them in the truck anyway. So I can just grab those bad boys and just like that, I have my own gym in the park. OR maybe your workout for the day is a hike – then it’s your chance to find cool trails nearby!

Building a Routine

This is the opposite of the above. Sometimes you may be craving something new and changing it up, but sometimes you may be craving stability and predictability, especially in this lifestyle. It all depends on how much you move but for us, when you’re changing “home base” every couple weeks, sometimes you desire to have one activity or a set of activities that stay the same in your life. Your workout routine can be that. For me, I wake up and go on a walk every morning while drinking my first 32 ounces of water of the day. That’s a thread that stays the same at every campground and can give me a sense of grounding.

Trying New Things

One thing to consider is it doesn’t always have to be at-home workouts. Sometimes when we want to mix it up and we’re in a location that has a gym nearby, we grab a membership for a couple weeks. This can be fun if you like the gym environment and seeing what equipment and amenities each one has. We joined a gym for a couple weeks once and used the massage chairs every single day as our reward for getting through the work day.

Staying Strong for the Lifestyle

One thing I struggled with after I no longer played college hockey was a reason to stay fit. I wanted to want to work out. But all I had ever known was training to get stronger for my sport. Once my sport was gone, I didn’t have anything that was motivation enough to keep me going. With the RV lifestyle, you actually need a lot of strength and flexibility. I’m not talking the kind of strength where you can lift the RV with your own bare hands – I’m talking about functional strength. Between loading the back of the truck, hooking and unhooking the trailer, digging in the underpass for the stabilizer blocks, hooking up the utilities, pulling the levers under the rig for black and grey tank – there’s a LOT of bending and twisting in this game. And after several back injuries between the both of us from being inconsistent with our fitness regimens, it became pretty clear that you have to keep your body in good working condition if you want to live the RV lifestyle long term.

Hopefully this gives you a bit more of a realistic visual of what it’s like working out on the road in a 26′ trailer. Check out this blog post to learn my 6 Fitness Must-Haves as a Full-Time RV’er.