My name is Syd Schulz and I am a professional mountain bike racer, focusing on enduro events. I am also a writer, blogger and lifestyle athlete. Currently based in Taos, NM, I grew up in Ohio and started riding bikes as a kid in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Over the past three years, I have raced my bike on four different continents and traveled all over the United States in a dirt-bag van. My blog focuses on inspirational content and stories of my own personal development. My goal is to inspire others to tackle their biggest hurdles in life (and on the bike).
Van life is pretty trendy these days, but sifting through the hashtag on Instagram doesn’t shed much light on what it’s really like. Apparently, you can cook gourmet meals on a single burner and wake up every morning with a view of the beach, but what about the everyday grind? And what about working out? Perhaps the average van life instagrammer gets enough exercise wrestling with the pop-top on their 1970s vanagon, but as professional mountain bikers who also happen to live on the road, my fiancé and I have to take our training a little more seriously. That means fitting in workouts around the every day logistics of van life. Whether you’re living in a van full time or just traveling for a few weeks in the summer, these tips should help you maintain your fitness routine on the road.
Prioritize your training schedule and PLAN AHEAD. This is pretty obvious but it’s also probably the most important tip on the list. While it’s always important to prioritize your training, it’s extra important if you’re living in a van, because van life has a tendency to throw the unexpected at you. If you’re not careful a lot of little things (filling up water, dealing with mechanical issues, setting up camp, driving into town) can swallow up your entire day. But, as with most things, if you have a plan, you’re way more likely to succeed. Make sure you plan around where you’ll be, so that your schedule is realistic to the time and resources (gym access, good mountain bike trails, etc.) that you have available.
Make sure your workout gear is easily accessible. If you have to spend half an hour digging around the bowels of your van to find all your riding gear, that’s going to cut into your workout time. Staying organized in a small space can be a nightmare, so when you plan your van build, make sure your organization reflects your priorities — If all your workout stuff has an assigned spot that’s easy to get to, you’ll save valuable time (and mental anguish). Ideally, when you arrive at the trailhead or the gym, it will only takes you a few seconds to find what you need.
KEEP A MINI-GYM
Better yet, have your own mobile mini gym. It’s amazing what you can do with a few resistance bands, a TRX, a jump rope and some creative body weight exercises. A pretty small investment in exercise equipment can mean you have no excuse to skip your workout, even if you’re camping in the middle of nowhere. I keep all these goodies together in a bag, because, even if I am going to a gym, you never know exactly what sort of equipment they’ll have, so it’s good to bring the essentials with you. I also use this bag to store some spare gym clothes and my Jaybird X3s, so (as per my second point) I can be ready to workout in no time.
Here’s what I have in my mini mobile gym bag:
– PT bands
– Resistance bands
– Jump rope
– Tennis balls (for juggling or rolling out sore muscles)
– Foam roller
– Voodoo floss band
– Jaybird X3s for the tunezzz
USE GYM SHOWERS
Speaking of gyms, shower at the gym. Finding showers while living the van life can be a challenge. Sure, you can have an expensive shower set up in your van, or fiddle with a solar shower — but if you’re an athlete, the best thing to do is just commit to showering at the gym. You’re not going to pay the gym fee for just a shower, so you’ll probably follow through with your workout as well. (Note: may not be financially sustainable if you feel the need to shower more than twice a week — but hey, you’re living in a van, so you’re probably on the level.)
GET A MAT
Invest in a tumbling mat. This was one of our best Amazon purchases ever. Why not just a yoga mat? Well, the problem with van life is that you don’t always have smooth, rock-less surfaces to set up a yoga mat, and having a thick tumbling mat means you can literally stretch on any surface, no matter how bumpy. The mat also doubles as a wind blocker when cooking in the desert, or a privacy screen for changing in the parking lot. Yes, it takes up a decent bit of space in the van, but it’s always the first thing we pull out when we make camp and it’s probably our most used item, so it’s well worth it.
Hopefully this inspired you to get out there and get your workout done, whether you live in a van or not!
Check out my playlist of the week:
Keep in touch with Syd!