Being cramped for space doesn’t have to stop you from caring for your mental health. Exercise is so important to staying healthy physically and emotionally, but I know there are so many mental blocks stopping us from getting in shape! Don’t let the fact that you only have a few square feet to move around in keep you from getting a daily workout in. As a fitness guru who works from the road, here are a few tips for getting a workout in without a gym, equipment, or space to move inside your van.
1. The Floor
- The floor of your RV absolutely can be enough space for a workout. If you have enough room to lie down on the floor and stretch your arms up (i.e. your RV kitchen space) then you can absolutely workout for free on a daily basis. Start by clearing as much space as is available to you. If this means getting rid of stuff, then do it! If that’s absolutely not an option, having an extra bin to chuck things in during your workout is a great alternative. These Ikea containers are super cheap and they fold out flat for when you’re not using them.
- If you’re living in a van or RV than you are probably pretty acquainted with the outdoors. Hikes, walks, rock climbing, cycling, snowshoeing, swimming and many other activities are literally at your doorstep. These all can be great ways of getting a full body workout but if you’re wanting something a bit more regimented, space outside can be the space you need to complete the workout I’ve written below.
- Now, this won’t really work if there is snow on the ground or it’s pouring rain, but in clear weather anywhere can be your gym. Start by parking on a flat surface weather that be a parking lot, campsite, or beach. Try to choose a place that has minimal roots or rocks and then lay out an outdoor rug. They can be a bit pricey but the money you save by living in a smaller vehicle would make it worth it. Outdoor rugs come in many forms (I like this one from REI) like padded, non-slip, washable, etc. Personally, I’d go with something super light and packable and skip the padding. Although this can be a bit hard on the body when you need to lie on the ground, you can always grab a yoga mat to add a little extra support.
3. A Gym
- If all else fails, get a gym membership. A gym membership at a 24/7 gym like Planet Fitness costs $25/month and there are over two thousand gyms all over North America that you would have unlimited access to. Obviously being able to use a gym means the space and equipment (and sometimes even classes) to do any kind of workout you want. It also would give you added perks like a great shower and toilet which is especially welcomed post-workout.
The Workout: This exercise routine can get your heart rate up and those happy endorphins flowing in any amount of space. I made this work out under the assumption that you’re not driving around with a van full of workout gear, but a yoga mat might be nice (though not necessary).
Start with a warm Up:
Warming up is super important! If you want to have a regular routine of exercising it is so important to stretch so that you don’t end up injuring yourself. I do a set of stretches every time I am about to exercise that can actually leave you sweaty. You can do whatever stretches you want, but I like to do a simple yoga flow like this one.
Next, I like to focus on a set of several core exercises that use just my body weight. For more information, check out this article about seven other strategies for staying fit on the road.
1. Dead Bug
Dead bug strengthens your core and is a nice slow way to get into it. Be sure to press your low back into the floor and never let it come up. You should feel a burn through your belly and only lower your legs as far as you are able, all while keeping your lower back in contact with the floor or yoga mat like this.
2. Plank with Reach
There are so many variations of planks which is why I love them! You can do a standard plank, or if you’re up for a challenge, reach your fist out one at a time in front of you and tap the floor. Be sure to keep your hips from rocking back and forth and make sure to really engage your core. Here is an example of what I mean.
3. Glute Bridges
Glute bridges are the key to begin growing the largest muscle in your body! You need your glutes to be strong in order to carry around your body and keep your back from getting tired. These can be modified and made more difficult by lifting one foot. This reel shows you all the variations of glute bridges you can do with or without equipment!
4. Goblet Squats
It’s so important that you really focus on form here. You can start without any equipment and just control your movements. You want to push your shoulders down, keep your feet wider than hip width apart, hold your chest up and squat as if you’re going to sit on a tiny little chair. If you have a couple of kettlebells, you’ll end up with the benefits of strength training (i.e. stronger muscles, fat loss, bone strength, and balance). Most of the time I don’t have access to weights but I have been known to use jugs of water, dish detergent, and laundry soap if I have to! Here’s an example of how to do this.
5. Push Ups
Now, I don’t love push ups. I mean, they are amazing because you need NO equipment and they work your entire core and upper body at the same time. But, I know they can get a little boring. However, being able to move your body weight up and down is really impressive and guaranteed to make you feel like a badass so, I think it’s worth it!! Let this inspire you.
6. Single-Leg Deadlift
I’d say this is the exercise with the biggest learning curve but the biggest reward. Single leg deadlifts use so many of your muscle groups and will really give you definition in your glutes and thighs and you can do them without weights if you truly have access to nothing (by nothing I mean no water jug or laundry soap, let alone kettlebell, to be seen). Similar to a squat but rather than sit you’re going to hinge while keeping one foot off the floor, engaging your core, and pushing your shoulders into your trunk. Like this.