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In all the years I’ve been working to promote a healthy RV lifestyle, there’s something I’ve heard more times than I can count— THIS:

Exercise while on my RV vacation, really Stef? RV trips are for relaxing, not exercising!’

Coming from me– an RVing personal trainer– this might totally surprise you, but I actually agree with you! That is, IF your RV trip is only for a weekend, or just a few short days. If that’s you right now, then you can go back to lounging by your campfire and stop reading right here with my blessing.

But! If you take longer RV trips, like James and I do, then read on.

It’s not a good idea to take prolonged breaks from exercise.

All the work you’ve done to build the fitness you have, you’ll lose. For people who already workout regularly, taking a few days or even a whole week off isn’t going to do much, so at least there’s that silver lining. Sometimes your body actually needs that break.

So, a few days, fine. But. If you take off LONGER than a week, your aerobic conditioning starts to noticeably decline. If you’re fit, then your muscle strength can begin declining, too… though usually it’s the aerobic stuff that you’ll notice first. The fitter you are, the sooner you’ll notice signs of detraining. (I know, so unfair, right?!) While I wish this wasn’t the case, fitness cannot be stored up and banked.

So, what can you do to make sure your RV trips don’t rob you of your current health and fitness levels?!

Turn your campsite into a gym!

This starts all the way back in the trip planning stages. When I’m making reservations for our campsites, my number one criterion isn’t finding the spot with the best views. Instead, my priority is to seek out campsites that are workout friendly. I look for a level site, open enough (not completely enclosed with trees and underbrush) that I have room to roll out my yoga mat or use my jump rope. Since picnic tables make excellent workout props, I try to find sites with tables. And since I’m always looking for things to use as anchors for my resistance bands and TRX, sites with a stable fence or pole of some sort (or like the ramada in the below pic) get bumped up the list, too.

Picking your campsite wisely means you’ll have an easier time doing a full workout comfortably right outside the RV door.

So, you’ve secured a workout-friendly campsite. Check. Next comes the fitness gear. While you can get a great workout at the campsite with no equipment at all (click here to see a bodyweight workout I created), having some travel-friendly exercise gear packed in the RV gives you more exercise options. And really, it just makes exercising more fun. Here’s the fitness equipment we travel with in our RV; and why it’s earned its place there:

1. Resistance Bands Kit:

If you could only take one exercise accessory in the RV to keep you fit on the road, the absolute best choice would be a resistance band kit. On top of a kit, I also recommend getting a resistance bands “anchor wrap”, which will allow you to use a heavy picnic table leg, or any pole, as a way to mount your bands. I mostly use my bands anchored, so it’s an important accessory of mine. The kits do come with a door anchor, but since I mostly use bands outside, I need the wrap style of anchor which is sold separately.

Not only will you effectively build strength, but bands are also inexpensive and easy to store in the RV, unlike heavy weights. I especially love how resistance bands add variety and spice up a workout on the road (click here to see one of my resistance bands workout plans). It’s important to LIKE your exercise, and the bands give you virtually unlimited possibilities to keep your workouts fresh and interesting. Beginners and advanced exercisers alike can benefit from resistance bands, because they are completely adaptable to all fitness levels.

2. Yoga Mat:

While I’m not sure how many states I’ve unrolled my most recent yoga mat on (a lot), I am sure these mats are our most used piece of RV fitness equipment. Being in such a small RV, our workouts always happen outside. Since I’m not a big fan of lying in dirt, gravel, or damp grass, the mats make it possible for us to workout anywhere without getting wet or dirty. Just today I used mine at our campground right on a beach in coastal Maine!

3. Jump Rope:

Besides being an inexpensive tool that packs easily, jumping rope is also a fantastic way to torch calories in less time. One study found that 10 minutes of jumping rope is comparable to 30 minutes of easy jogging. Jumping rope isn’t only cardio boosting, it’s also full body strengthening— working you from head to toe. And yes, jumping rope does put a lot of stress on your joints. But when you do it properly, it requires no more impact than jogging. If you’re up for a challenge, there are loads of tricks you can try. And if you’re new to it, there are also beginner techniques that require no jumping at all.

4. TRX:

I just love the TRX, especially how it adds a little ‘fun factor’ to our campsite gym. The TRX, which stands for ‘Total-body Resistance eXercise‘, is a suspension training tool that uses your own body weight, especially the core, to whip you into shape (here’s a workout video I made to see it in action). It’s basically two long adjustable straps that you mount somewhere safe and sturdy at just above head level. Since pretty much every single thing you do on the TRX requires balance, it puts a whole new spin on the typical go-to exercises everybody and their sister are doing down the street at the traditional gym. The TRX has “handles” that can be used for either your hands or feet, and it allows for a ton of unilateral and functional exercises that are hard to replicate using traditional weights. And this isn’t just for advanced exercisers either. The TRX is great for all ability levels, and that includes you seniors, too.

So yeah, that’s it!

Those 4 things are the main things we travel with to set up our campsite gym. It’s not much, but it’s all we need to keep us on track with our fitness when we’re traveling.

My trainer advice to you?

As you set up your own RV gyms, don’t make it complicated. Bring a couple things to make your workouts fun and fresh, and you’ll be all set to enjoy quite possibly your most enjoyable ‘gym’ workouts ever, in the sunshine, right outside your RV door.