van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

Although we love beer and pizza as much as anyone, we also care about our health and wellness. The name of the game is balance, right?

That’s why we make it a point to be consistent with our workouts and move our bodies several times a week while road tripping in our van. But that’s not always the easiest achievement when you’re up against long drives, unorganized living quarters and hopping from one unfamiliar city to the next.

The following is a list of our top advice when it comes to managing to stay fit while traveling.

How to Stay Motivated

van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

Half the battle with working out is getting and staying motivated, regardless of whether you're traveling or at home.

When it comes to staying on track, we have a solid foundation to work from: we both really value the firsthand benefits of getting our heart rates up. We also have each other to rely on. Often times when one of us is on the fence, the other one will find a way to gently cajole the other into lacing up her shoes, and then we're off and running.

Every single time we are happy that we did. But sometimes you need a little extra boost to get you out the door. When that happens, we rely on the following:

Put a premium on the view.

We're all, to some extent, visual creatures. Give us a gorgeous beach to run along and we'll gladly lace up our shoes, especially if it's a beach we've never been to before.

Then it feels more like exploration and adventure than drudgery to burn calories. Use whatever the environment has to offer and see if that doesn’t breathe a little bit of life into your workout.

van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

Mix things up.

If you run most of the time, consider trying something new such as riding a bike or swimming. Think about joining a pickup basketball game at the local park, or maybe try going kayaking – anything that's outside your norm.

They say variety is the spice of life and when it comes to staying motivated, this might just be the ticket towards long-term fitness longevity.

Make it social.

The internet is a great resource for finding running clubs and riding groups. And yoga and kickboxing classes. These days new friends and fitness are just a click away.

On a recent trip to Austin, we did a quick scan of their Meetup scene and found that on any given day, there are more than 500 Fitness Meetups for you to choose from.

Another great resource is Road Runners Club of America. They have a list of clubs in all 50 states, many of which organize free training runs, and the map on their website is easy to navigate.

If you want to take your chances, we've been hearing the app Gymder on people's lips but haven't tried it ourselves. They bill themselves as the leading social fitness app.

Want to be social but don't want to engage through a computer? Head on over to the local running shop in your nearest town or city and see if you can't work in a group run.

van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

Keep it fun!

When you start looking at your Garmin more than once or twice a mile, it’s like you’re merely punching the clock until the miles are completed. Lame.

But making a conscious effort to make it fun again on the next run can help. Sometimes that means adding music, sometimes that means hitting a new surface (trails always do the trick, especially if they're technical). Sometimes it means adding little bursts of speed into the run.

When all else fails, put the running shoes away for a day or two and give your body a break. It's taken two stress fractures to really learn to listen to our bodies, but we’ve been boot-free for the last couple of years so it seems to be working.

How to Carve Out Time for Workouts

van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

You've mustered up the motivation, but how do you fit a workout into your day? It's a legitimate question, and one that can be answered by taking a little time to make a plan.

Make workouts a priority.

First, check in with your values.

If fitness matters to you, then you'll figure out a way to regularly fit it into you life.

We all know people who seem superhuman – they're raising kids, working full-time jobs, volunteering AND training for a marathon-all at the same time. They're not given any more time in a day than anyone else but the one thing they have in common is that they're super organized and they prioritize their training.

Plan ahead.

Planning automatically makes your workouts more likely to happen rather than just hoping they'll happen. Planning means problem solving and literally carving out space for it to happen.

For us, it means looking at the weather (we hate running in the cold and would rather wait for the day to warm up), talking about what's on tap for the upcoming day (is it filled with meetings and photo shoots or is it open-ended?) and then figuring out where it makes most sense to workout.

It requires us to be flexible and stay unattached to a routine, but means we almost always follow through on what we've planned.

van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

Stay organized.

Living out our van is a lot easier these days than traveling around in our old 4Runner. It has different compartments for storage and allows us to stay organized.

One of the simplest and smallest things we do that has a big impact on whether or not we get a run in? Digging our stuff out of the van the night before and laying it out so that it's staring us in the face when we wake up.

Many years ago, we realized that simply getting dressed in running clothes almost always meant that we’d go for a run. All these years later that simple trick is still working.

Get some fitness in at rest stops.

If you’re looking for some specifics, we have an entire breakdown on how to squeeze in fitness when you’re faced with a long day on the road.

How to Solve the Issue of Sweaty Gear

van life fitness tips

Photo: Caroline Whatley

You workout, you sweat. It's a good thing – until you realize that you (and anyone else in the van) will have to ride, eat and sleep near your sweaty, stinky clothes.

We've tried a couple different solutions to this problem. What we've found is that a couple steps towards prevention and a little bit of creativity will make the best out of a stinky situation.

Upgrade your gear.

First off, get yourself into some new gear that have technical, quick-drying materials, especially if you're still sweating in the cotton T-shirt from that 5K you ran ten years ago.

Take advantage of the technology that's available to athletes these days and find some pieces that might not only help you stink less and dry quicker but also feel good on your skin.

Under Armour makes some of our favorite shorts. When the weather gets a little cooler you'll find us reaching for our Nike tights every single time.

Rinse, repeat.

Having cool technical running gear is only a piece of the puzzle.

Van life means wearing the same thing several days in a row – or at least until you can get to a laundromat.

A freshwater rinse will go a long way towards reducing the stench. It will also allow you to get more mileage out of the same pieces of gear, which is essential if you're like us and have packed as little as possible.

van life fitness gear

Photo: Caroline Whatley

Experiment with your rig.

At first, in one of our older vehicles, we started carrying our sweaty gear in large plastic containers. We'd drape it over the edge and bear with the stench until we got parked for the night. Then we would hang it up on the mirrors and branches of trees – basically, whatever we could find.

When that vehicle died, we moved into one that had a hitch. We had less space in the interior and ended up storing our gear in a big storage box that slid into the hitch.

Post-run we'd just throw our running funk into the box and get on with our day. It was out of sight and far enough from our noses that we didn't even think about it until we had to put it on again. But opening the lid was like a near-death experience almost every single time.

Since then, we've become a little wiser and have rigged a clothesline system to the roof of our van.

So far it's the best system that we've come up with because it allows gear to dry faster and it's well within our reach the next day. From time to time, when our clothes aren't too damp, we throw them on the ledge of our folded up table. Re

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