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How To Squeeze In A Workout Without The Gym

At home, you might start every day with a trip to the gym, a run through your neighborhood, or some “me” time on your yoga mat. You have your routine down, from the time the alarm clock goes off to the time you hop on your favorite bike in spin class. But traveling, especially in an RV, can throw even the most dedicated fitness junkie off their game.

It’s especially tough to keep the momentum going when you’re in a new place with no set schedule and limited knowledge of your destination. On top of that, the limited space in your RV or campervan makes an easy excuse for taking an exercise hiatus while you’re on the road. That vacation mentality kicks in, where the little voice in your head tells you to bag that early morning run and sleep in another hour.

Plan a workout routine that goes where you go with these tips on getting a workout without leaving your RV or van.

Dedicated space & time

Maximizing the limited space inside your rig is a part of the RV lifestyle. Look over your rig for spaces where you can exercise and store your athletic gear. What’s most important is consistency so, when you first arrive in camp, set up that space and choose a time of day to exercise. Dedicate one cabinet or storage bin to your equipment (more about space-efficient equipment options to come) and carve out an exercise mat-sized rectangle on the floor of your RV for workouts.

If you have a van or tiny trailer without much open floor, move outside under your awning or search out a picnic pavilion. Another option that gives you even more privacy is to pitch a screened gazebo or tent at your campsite.

Strength training

Stash an exercise mat and resistance bands or a set of dumbbells in your RV to incorporate weight training into your workouts at least twice a week. This is key to maintaining lean muscle mass and bone density. If space inside is limited, take it outside for overhead presses, bicep curls, weighted squats, and glute bridges. You don’t even need equipment for tricep dips off your RV stairs, step-ups and raised push ups with toes on a picnic table bench, and quad-burning wall sits against your RV.

Core work

Roll out your mat for crunches, planks, superman lifts, and supine leg lifts to increase core and back muscle strength. Keep it interesting by changing up your planks with shoulder/toe taps, side planks, and knee-to-elbow taps. If you’re working out on the smooth floor of your RV, add Glide discs under your toes to increase plank intensity and increase the crunch burn by holding one dumbbell at chest level.

Cardio options

Another fitness category—cardio work—is essential to heart and lung health with the added benefit of a feel-good endorphin boost after your workout. Step out under your awning with a jump rope for one of the most time-efficient and effective cardiovascular workouts out there. Alternate two minutes of jump rope with calorie-blasting bodyweight moves like burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps, and jumping jacks for variety. Low impact variations like high knee marching and squat-to-high knee lifts work if you have hip and knee issues.

Since one reason to go RVing is to be closer to nature, every RV fitness regime needs to incorporate the lakes, trails, and scenic roadways around you. Pack a pair of trail runners so you can hike or run the trails near your campsite, and don’t forget a swimsuit and goggles if there’s a lake nearby. If you love cycling, consider investing in a bike rack so you can hop on the closest singletrack or greenway for your daily dose of cardio.

Stretching & recovery

No workout routine is complete without building in periods of muscle recovery. Stretch on your mat at the end of every workout to release tension and build flexibility. For deeper leg stretches, stand outside with your leg extended and heel propped on a picnic table bench. For even more pampering, bring along a compact foam roller. Massage tired muscles as you hold your stretches for quicker recovery.

Motivation tools

If you’re like the majority of exercisers, you have the best of intentions and less than perfect follow through. But there are a few tools that can nudge you toward your goals. Connect to the campground Wi-Fi and tap into hundreds of fitness class formats, from barre and yoga to HIIT interval training and boot camp workouts.

You can also turn to technology for the motivation you need. Make every step you take count toward your goals by wearing a fitness tracker, or download fitness apps like Nike Training Club, My Fitness Pal, and Yoga for Beginners to access workout plans, motivation tips, goal-setting tools, and nutrition information.

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