If hula hoop is the solution, which question does it answer? Learn new things? Try new things? What exercise could be done that would be fun and be done while traveling cross country?
When I saw a woman, Geri, my age(ish) selling custom made hula hoops that come apart for travel, I was intrigued. Then I saw her client who looked similar to me (curvy and no prior hoop experience) having joy while learning, I was sold. Now that I have my own hoop, I am hooked!
A little background…I have only attempted hooping once before. Maybe as a kid with one of those toy ones. But my “first” hoop lesson was from a friend I made through the Burning Man community. She’s a dancer, and has been hooping for decades. She told me about places online where they sell them. Another friend told me she learned how to make her own. I was, frankly, intimidated. However, the magic from a video of people hooping at Burning Man entranced me – six years ago! Take a look at this video (not the original one I remember, but shows the unique creativity and fun of the event through a hooper’s view) Burning Man 2016 Hula Hoop and Fire Cam
Road Warrior Exercise Options
You don’t need to hear the blah, blah, blah about why exercise is good for you, and the “check with your doctor before starting any exercise plan” disclaimer. Neither do I. I know by now that I am not a gym rat. Doing things like squats/planks or burpees (which are that frog jump thing I remember hating in elementary school gym class!) at home (or wherever I will be) just isn’t my jam. I did discover years ago that I like yoga, and am addicted to Bikram (the hot yoga) in particular.
Finding something you like, and will stick with consistently, can be a challenge. Exercise can be a chore! Since I am now on my nomad journey, I’m discovering exercise on the road can be tough. Since staying fit is key, and if you travel at all, you may be interested in what I’ve learned.
If you’re into creating routines (like x number of push-ups, squats, planks etc), there are a bunch to be found online or created with a personal trainer. Or even through apps. There’s even a YouTube series called The Fit RV. Resistance bands, exercise balls, and kettlebells are all recommended as they take up very little space. If you travel a lot, the option of signing up for a national gym that allows you the perk of using facilities everywhere is possible. (Side note, a lot of rolling home owners do this for the “unlimited” hot showers!)
Put some fun into it!
I read a stat somewhere that 60% (not exact, don’t quote me) of women won’t exercise unless it’s fun. I’m definitely one of those people. Are you? Here’s my strategy for exercising while being a nomad with not much living space for a dedicated gym, or potentially not even being somewhere near one of those national gyms. In my opinion, most of these bring out the wonder and joy I experienced as a kid (or maybe just wish I did!). The yoga moves I’m suggesting may not make you jump with glee, but some of the names make me giggle.
Hiking and walking – while checking out National Parks and fun sights along the way would be a natural option for making exercise fun. I use my phone’s health app to track steps (and laugh when I think they’ve not recorded things right. Shouldn’t a hike up a mountain trail be more “flights” than just steps?)
Yoga – trying to find Bikram yoga in places we stop will be a challenge, not to mention expensive. When we have access to wifi, the free YouTube yoga instructor I like is “Yoga with Adriene” (see her yoga for after travel video in the link below). I was inspired to find a few poses that would help counter those long periods of sitting when I saw a mom and her son doing stretches against a gas station wall.
The ones I like to start with are “cat” and “cow” stretches, going into a few “downward dogs”. The “standing eagle” pose helps reverse the hunch (of either being at the wheel driving, or maybe looking down at your phone too long). Any of the pretzel-type stretches you like would be good. I also find poses like “laughing baby” (aka “happy baby”) help my back and legs and can be done in a hotel bed, air mattress or on your yoga mat wherever it fits.
Belly Dancing -having taken a few classes in the past, I know this one can be done standing in one spot! A woman I know, Tara, offers classes online so I could do anywhere I had WiFi (and pre-arranged the class!)
Jump rope – this one’s even easier to carry…a tip I learned is to use a pretend jump rope! Ha! Using an imaginary rope also keeps you from tripping up. In my opinion, help you visualize yourself as a boxing hero (Muhammad Ali. Or even his daughter Laila who was a pro boxer!) If you did jump rope as a kid, do you remember the songs?
Playgrounds – Find me a swing set and I’ll be there, pumping my legs and laughing with the wind in my face. There are people out there who have created serious workouts using playgrounds (see below links for ideas). I figure I will go with whatever the playground offers and how I feel that day for what moves I will do. The monkey bars being a huge perk for arm strength. Crawling up and down a slide like a crab might be fun (if the slide’s not too hot in the sun!). I may even try Prancercise. Why not? Being at a playground doesn’t mean you have to act like an adult. Go with the flow and enjoy!
Hula hoop – even saying the words make me smile. I bought one that came with excellent video instructions so from my very first try (I did not hoop as a kid) I was able to make that thing go around successfully. It folds up into an easy carry bag. It doesn’t take much space to hoop, so I can see myself taking a break at a rest stop and getting some practice in. Research shows that even 10 minute spurts add up to the daily requirement of movement. Putting your hands straight up in the air (which I do to keep myself aligned until I get the muscle memory part down) is actually a good cardio booster. Plus – it could be an interesting conversation starter with other road warriors. (If you’re interested, here’s the video of my “unboxing” and showing how the hoop snaps together Adventure Wednesdays YouTube Hula Hoop )
Resources for you
Yoga: Yoga with Adriene for Travel Laughter yoga https://youtu.be/4p4dZ0afivk (TedX) https://youtu.be/3dpNS2l7jNs (after watching this, check and see if you aren’t laughing even if it’s because this guy seems so…funny) Bikram Studios locator Yoga Poses (via Yoga Journal)
Belly dancing – check out the blog Tara wrote “Bellydance as a Spiritual Healing Path”
Jump Rope: I like this workout because it features a boxer showing you proper technique for jumping without a rope.
Playground routines: http://travelstrong.net/playground-workout-routine/ Nerd Fitness https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/playground-workout/
Hula Hoops – shameless plug here! I have only virtually met Geri, but with her online videos and social media presence, I feel I “know” her! Here’s a link to her website, and her blog where she mentions me! (Note: I am not an affiliate so I’m not making any $$ if you buy from her. I just want to share the joy.) aRoundJoy (I bought the Snap-n-gO WOO-Hoop™ with Bling). “What It’s Like To Get A New aRoundJoy Hoop” (I’m the 3rd testimonial). And to see her teaching about the hoop she made for me, go to her Facebook page for this live she did recently (“Before I send this hoop off”)