Let’s Talk Health and Hygiene on the Road
Living or traveling extensively in a van can take a toll on your body. Hours spent in a smaller space or in a driver’s seat can take away from time spent getting some much-needed exercise or weight training.
In addition to a few rounds on a treadmill or with the free weights, gyms are also one of the primary places where van lifers can get a good hot shower. Not to mention a dip in a pool, hot tub, or steam room. Even having a flushing toilet can be a luxury.
For people living on the road, having a gym membership is just about as necessary as fuel and food.
The influx of 24/7 gyms, public health centers, and swimming pools around the country makes access to fitness easier than ever.
But which one should you choose?
There are several parameters to look at when choosing a gym membership. The first one is personal. What areas of the country are you planning on spending most of your time in? Will you stay in your local area? If so, then having a membership at a community center, local pool, or neighborhood gym could be sufficient.
However, if you plan on roaming much farther out and are unsure of what is available, then getting a membership with a nationwide gym will be your best bet.
When Looking at Gym Benefits, Take the Following Into Consideration
- How many locations does each gym have?
- Does the membership cover all locations and services?
- What amenities are included? These can be classes, showers, towels, lockers, pools and hot tubs, health food and juice bars, and personal training.
- What are the prices or price levels and what do they include?
- What are their hours and parking options?
Asking each of these questions for each membership you are considering can help you to narrow them down to what you personally need and want.
We looked at a variety of nationwide gym memberships, and these are our favorites for full-time van lifers.
Planet Fitness makes the top of the list because of its low introductory cost and number of locations. PF has 2,300 locations in all 50 states, and you can start using this gym for only $10 per month. This low price includes the use of your home gym plus free training and wifi access.
However, if you plan on moving around the country, the PF Black Card Membership of $24.99 per month with an annual fee of $49 might be the better deal. With this membership, you can also bring a guest, access the tanning machines and HydroMassage or massage chairs, and other perks.
Whatever membership option you choose, the gyms are clean and well-appointed, and each one has locker rooms with showers as well as a fitness app. Most locations are also open 24 hours.
This gym membership tops the list because of its many locations around the United States and Canada. There are over 2,300 Anytime Fitness locations in the U.S., located in metropolitan areas and in smaller towns.
Each gym is different, but most offer a full range of equipment, personal training, classes, tanning, yoga, private showers, and locker rooms. Like its name, Anytime is open 24 hours a day and also offers secure parking.
The price does vary between locations, but the monthly fees range from about $40 to $53 per month. They do offer student, military, and insurance discounts. They also offer a free 7-day trial, so you can check it out first.
This popular gym makes the list not only for its nice range of locations (nearly 300) but for its fun and dynamic fitness classes. Depending on the location, classes in cardio and HIIT, strength training, yoga and mind-body, cycling, dance, and age-appropriate are available.
The 24-Hour Fitness membership options are a little more complicated and vary by location, but some of them do offer pool and hot tub access. For example, locations in the Los Angeles area start at around $37 per month but only include regional access. National and Platinum memberships cost more upfront but have cheaper monthly fees and allow for access to nationwide locations.
The good old community club is still going strong. The YMCA you went to as a kid still has over 2,700 locations around the U.S. Many of them also have what a lot of gyms do not—pools. Getting in a much-needed swim tackles both fitness and cleanliness.
Most YMCA locations will have various amenities. Some have ball courts, fitness classes, full gyms, hot tubs, steam rooms, and private showers and lockers. Each one you visit will be a new adventure, but expect to pay a little bit more for national access.
Depending on where you sign up, membership runs around $50-$60 per month, but this does give you access to all YMCA locations in the U.S. The Y also offers a free 7-day pass to check out what they offer.
Which Gym Memberships Do You Prefer?
No matter which option you choose, each of these memberships will also open you up to a community of fitness and health advocates—a good thing to have on the road.
Also, you never know when you might run into a fellow van lifer on the treadmill next to you.