How to exercise on the road—no equipment and (mostly) free workout sources

How to exercise on the road—no equipment and (mostly) free workout sources

by Mandy Wallace

The past 18 months have found us in a location almost every week—and regardless of where we are, I make it a priority to exercise 5-6 days a week. In national and state parks it’s easy to find some amazing hikes, but most days we don’t have a few hours to explore.

For daily workouts on days we’re in the RV, I’ve come up with a slew of workout sources for every sort of living situation—from full hookups (ie electricity to charge devices and ample internet access) to boondocking with no service available. I go for workouts that have no equipment needed—just a pair of running shoes, a yoga mat, and occasionally a sports watch.

Please note that I’m not a fitness expert—just a lady who wants to be able to run with her kids, hike to the top of a relatively short volcano, and swim in any body of water we happen to be near (and maybe have some fantastically toned arms if we’re being honest). Make sure to consult with your personal doctor before embarking on any fitness plans!


Full hookups – electricity and internet

When the electricity and internet are full and plentiful, I like to use YouTube and a few favorite apps for workout inspiration.

Lucy’s Squad

Lucy Wyndham-Read’s YouTube channel is full of quick high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts—like as short as 3 or 4 minutes. I’ll do a workout mid-morning and then one before lunch, then take a walk with the kids (or a run by myself!) and feel like I’ve done my body good. She also has walking interval workouts that you can do around your campground or in the RV if the weather is poor. I started with her January challenge (10 min or less workout 6 days a week).

Her Instagram feed (@lucywyndhamread) has daily inspiration and even quick workouts. Sometimes if I’m scrolling through Instagram and hit one of her workout posts I’ll stop and do it then – because surely I can spend 4 minutes moving my body instead of just my thumb!

Yoga

My two favorite yoga sources: Down Dog app (free!) and Sarah Beth Yoga on YouTube. Both have 10-60 minute workout options and get straight to business (I’m not a fan of workout folks who spend a lot of time talking about what we’re about to do. Let’s just do it!).

Yoga while the kids explore the playground in Oregon

Running

My friend in San Fran turned me on to Nike’s free run club app. You can select a goal (like running a 5k in a few weeks) or work on your speed or endurance. Different athletes talk you through the running workout.


Partial hook-ups

If internet access is iffy but you still have electricity to charge devices (via solar or through your campsite), these are my favorite workout sources:

This is the only app that is not free in my list – but it’s on because it works. My husband has been using the app for over a year and has trimmed his belly and (honestly) gotten some pretty impressive muscles from using their strength workouts. After watching him faithfully complete 5 workouts a week, I decided to buy it for myself. It’s certainly good – you rate yourself on how hard each workout is and it responds by adjusting the next week to your performance.

Total Body – Freeletics

That said, the downfall of this one is that workouts can be 30-55 minutes, which is frankly too long for me. I’ve found myself gravitating back to Lucy on YouTube because I can knock out a few workouts throughout the day. But, if you have an hour to devote to working out and getting your sweat on, Freeletics is fantastic. Here’s a special invitation link with 20% off if you’re interested (full disclosure – I get a towel or some other paraphernalia if you join).

Running

I love the Interval Timer – HIIT training (free!) app to set up runs. My favorites are crossfit running endurance and tabata inspired (and make sure to warm up with a brisk walk first!):

Run 1: Run hard 20 seconds, walk 10 seconds. Repeat 8, 16, or 24 times.

Run 2: Run 1.5 minutes, walk 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Run 3: I call this the rainbow. The general idea is to walk 1 min, run 1 min. Then walk 50 seconds, run 1 min. Walk 40 sec, run 1 min. Continue down to 10-sec walk and then come back up. Once I could do this easily I moved a ‘double rainbow’, running 1 minute in between these walking breaks: 60 sec, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 20, 30, 20, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60.


Boondocking

Every once and awhile we plan a week with little or no internet access and have a hard time with solar panels (like in a forest setting!) so draining my phone batteries for a workout isn’t possible. On these occasions, I fall back on some favorite workouts:

Running

See the three runs above. Instead of relying on the app on my phone, I use a sports watch with a minute timer to run/walk.

Full body 7-minute workout

A few years ago the New York Times came out with the most scientifically efficient 7 minute workout. Do it a few times and you’ll have it memorized!

Run + 7-minute workout

Sometimes I’ll combine running intervals with the NYT 7-minute workout intervals – so I’ll run for 1 minute, then do 45 seconds of a wall sit (using a telephone pole, tree, or bathhouse!), then run for 1 minute and then do 45 seconds of push-ups, etc.

Pinterest screen grabs

I’ve got a folder of equipment free workouts from Pinterest saved on my phone. I’ll copy them on an index card or post-it note and then grab one and go! Here are some of my favorites.


BONUS: My weekly plan

In case you’re curious, my current workout plan looks like this!

M/W/F: a run + 7-minute arm workout

T/TH: freeletics workout or HIIT workout from Lucy Wyndham-Read

Sat: family hike

Sun: rest or late afternoon yoga

What do you think about my list? Do you have any other favorite workout sources for life on the road?

About author

Mandy Wallace

Whether boondocking or basking in the luxury of full hook ups, Mandy Wallace is never far from a great book, a spreadsheet, her children, or her super hot husband. (I mean, seriously. We live in 300 square feet, nothing is far from reach.) In 17 months of full-time adventures their family of five has explored 32 states and 23 National Parks, Canada, and Mexico. Grab family travel tips and encouragement from her site: Now Take Off!, check her out on Instagram: @mandy_adventure_wallace & @themagichomeschoolbus, or laugh through her travel journal from their first six months as full timers at Outside the Slides.

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