As I think back through the past month, all I can do is smile. Aaron and I saw some amazing sights and grew in various ways as we worked, played, and traveled our way south from Seattle, WA, into sunny California. We have both been using the Undersun Resistance Bands exclusively for our travel workouts, and haven’t touched any other piece of equipment from our van life gym since committing to this challenge.
Previously, during our first 18-months living in our RV, we were dependent on our dumbbells to get in our strength training while traveling. We would also plan our routes to hit cities where our national chain gym had locations so we could supplement by going to the gym while traveling. I’ve got to admit, it feels incredibly liberating to be freed from that restriction ever since we found the best resistance bands for travel. The convenience, location freedom, and simplicity of the travel resistance bands have taken our passion for fitness and travel to a whole new level.
Embrace the Pace, and the Local Temps
My first blog from month one ended as we were in Poulsbo, WA. While we were there, the final days of pleasant summer weather changed into cold and rain. We typically prefer to workout quickly in the early morning for many reasons. But with the cold, we were forced to wait until midday for the warmup. Luckily for us, we had our friend’s garage to do our band workouts in while we were parked in their driveway.
From Poulsbo, we headed over to Ocean Shores, WA, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. We spent a week here with highs of 55, lows of 35, and a mix of sleet and rain. Being from Minnesota, we are no strangers to bundling up in hats, mittens, and jackets to get outside for fresh air and morning walks, however, it was a bit too cold and rainy to do our outdoor workouts during our time here. We were cooped up for sure, but we were so grateful to have our bands.
During our stay in Ocean Shores, we actually did the TA2 “Build” program workouts inside of our van for multiple days. It requires minor modifications to some exercises due to range of motion, but we were ecstatic to have a solution protected from the elements. Never ever could we possibly workout with our dumbbells inside of our van. This is a huge breakthrough for us! After a quick visit to the HOH Rainforest and Ruby Beach, we had our fill of the Pacific Northwest and it was time to drive 900 miles into sunny California. This is the magic of van life…you are able to pick up and leave whenever you want to or need to.
BUILD using the Basics
The first month of the TA2 BUILD program uses unanchored exercises making setup a breeze. Additionally, the online demonstration videos make it so simple to learn the movements. It is really convenient to pull open the program on your phone or laptop, and especially beneficial as you are just getting started. The videos are clear and to the point with really good cues to help you find your best form. After just 2-3 weeks of repetition, we were familiar and confident with the feel of the bands, the movements, the form, and adjusting the tension. Being a personal trainer, I really appreciate the value of this connection before jumping into more advanced movements.
Month two of the program introduces you to anchored movements, which feels like a significant change up and is super exciting. On the first day of using anchored movements, we noticed an increase in both core engagement and range of motion on certain exercises. The movements remind us of using the cable machine at the gym, which was our favorite piece of gym equipment to use for our best travel workout. We use the outdoor anchor and look for things like trees, posts, and grills to use, and even pick our site at RV parks based on if it’s anchor friendly!
On the days that we workout inside of the van, we stick with unanchored movements since that’s what space allows. We don’t mind mixing and matching the program to fit our needs, and we are thankful to have the flexibility to get a quick leg workout in on days that we would otherwise be forced to skip due to travel or weather. Sure, there are plenty of bodyweight workouts for traveling that we could do inside as well, but for us, they eventually get boring. The bands offer a variety of indoor traveling exercises for us with limited space.
Shake it up with BODYSHOCK
After two days of driving, we skipped right through Oregon and into California. Warmth and sunshine were on our wish-list, and we knew right where to find it! We drove into Sonoma County, CA, and settled into an RV Park amongst the abundant vineyards. It was time to wind down, catch up, and solidify our routine again after a few days of exploration in the Olympic National Park followed by heavy travel days.
We are in a location that is suitable for outdoor workouts again, I start dabbling again with TA2 “BODYSHOCK”. Back in month one, I did do a few sessions for a quick 30-minute outdoor HIIT workout while the weather still permitted. TA2 BODYSHOCK offers quick HIIT workouts that are full-body and quick-paced.
Now that I dig back into TA2 BODYSHOCK after a couple weeks away from it, I have discovered Annik’s live workouts that she does on Instagram and they are awesome. The live workouts (being on East Coast Time) are still a bit too cold for me (West Coast Time), to join in live for a fast fat burning workout, but I can pull them up on IGTV and still take advantage later, at my own convenience. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy taking orders from drill sergeant Annik to burn calories fast. It’s really great to have a change of pace and take the mind work out of what I am doing for a fast fat burn.
While spending time in wine country, we went hiking with resistance bands and were excited to see some gorgeous vineyards. From there we moved along into San Francisco, which stole our hearts. We did let loose for two days in San Fran and had some fun, treating it as a mini-vacation. Working out on vacation is something we always prioritize, stemming from our days of living in traditional sticks-and-bricks. It was easy for us to stay on track in San Francisco, even while exploring. The bands are a fun way to get our vacation workouts in since we can just pack a couple of select band strengths and use later in the day while out exploring. Whether it’s a quick morning workout or an afternoon outdoor upper body workout at the Golden Gate Bridge, it can be done!
Another highlight of our travel was driving down the PCH through Big Sur. The views are breathtaking. On one of our numerous vista point pullovers, we grabbed our resistance bands from our gym in a van and worked in a quick cardio workout with a view that can’t be beat. What a great way to break up the drive and get relief from sitting all day. These travel-friendly workouts are so easy to get into, it would be a shame not to pull over and do some step-ups on the boulders.
We are totally loving the freedom of the bands and no longer needing to unload the dumbbells out of our travel gym garage. We didn’t realize how much of a burden this was on our van life workouts until we were freed from it! Not only are we saving time during setup and teardown, but we have also shortened the duration of our workouts themselves. Previously, we were grueling out 75+ minutes of dumbbell work each session. Now we have been sticking to the 40-minute rule that James preaches. This shortened workout is much more practical, and we find ourselves pushing the intensity harder as a result of the relieved time frame.
What we love the most since using the bands is, we can feel how our muscles are being worked differently. The soreness is different and the exhaustion is different, without the pressure on the joints from lifting heavy dumbbells. I love that you can adjust your grip on the loop-style bands mid-set to increase or decrease resistance as needed.
Aaron and I workout together every day, doing the same exact routine. We share one set of bands and it is pretty easy to take turns between sets. The only time we workout individually is if we are working out inside the van, due to space restrictions. We were looking for the perfect piece of travel workout gear, and we found it with these bands. They allow us to get a quick at-home workout, no matter where we park it, no matter what time.