Motorhomers can travel fit
- Written by Todd Moning
“Exercise is as powerful as any medicine they have out there,” he said. “It’s strong medicine for diabetes, cancers, high blood pressure, all kinds of maladies. So why would you want to miss out on it?”
To teach motorhomers how to exercise properly, in 1998 Wayne and his wife, Dahelia, began conducting fitness seminars at FMCA conventions. “We felt motorhomers weren’t getting good information about what to do about their health and fitness while on the road,” Wayne said. “We try to show things that motorhomers can do to make them feel better.”
Wayne and Dahelia are program directors at Professional Fitness Instructor Training (PFIT). The Houston, Texas-based program offers a Personal Fitness Trainer Course & Certification program for personal trainers, fitness instructors and rehabilitative specialists. They teach topics such as Anatomy, Kinesio-Dynamics, Musculoskeletal Principles and Injury Intervals/Limitations.
Together, these FMCA members, both age 56, have more than 45 years of fitness training experience.
Finding time and a place to exercise
Despite today’s motorhomes’ roomier floor plans and slideouts that expand the living area, motorhomes do not provide the best environment for exercise. And storing and setting up bulky exercise equipment inside the vehicle isn’t always feasible or safe.
“It’s really easy in a motorhome not to exercise,” Wayne said.
Especially when motorhoming activities all too often center on food. “Many motorhoming people plan activities where they’re going to be and where they’re going to eat. If all you do is travel, eat and sit and talk, you can really miss out on a lot of activities.”
What are motorhome travelers left to do? The most important thing is to get out of the motorhome and walk, Wayne said. But he admitted that it’s hard for motorhomers to stop and exercise when driving all day, eager to get to the next destination.
“Many are more concerned about their motorhome engine than their own engine – their body. And they’re quick to take a pill rather than try to see how the body responds to healthful eating and regular exercise.”
He knows someone who, wisely, went to the doctor after experiencing chest pain. Instead of a cure-all prescription, the doctor handed him an aspirin and said, “Take one of these for a 30-minute walk every day, and when you get home, take it.”
The message, said Wayne, a U.S. Navy veteran, is: “Take control of your own life. You’ve got to run it.”
The Hunts, on their motorhome trips, make it a point to stop at truck stops and get out of their coach to walk around. “During our day, no matter where we are, we schedule exercise,” Wayne said. “If we don’t do it, it’s like we’re missing a meal.”
Wayne and Dahelia’s exercise also includes cycling and resistance training three or four days a week.
In their TravelFit seminars at FMCA conventions, the Hunts recommend moderate exercise – regularly – and eating foods in moderation. They advise to always consult with a physician before starting an exercise program.
The Hunts present three seminars that focus on common ailments: back pain, knee pain and shoulder pain. “At every seminar,” Wayne said, “we talk about general exercise, nutrition, and the digestive process. We do anything we can to educate people about making better health decisions.”
Through lectures, demonstrations and active participation, the Hunts show motorhomers how to improve posture while driving, and offer tips for moving in and around the RV.
Common tasks associated with the motorhoming lifestyle can be made easier through exercises designed to improve stability, strength and flexibility, Wayne said. “For instance, squatting to load a 50-amp power cord takes a lot of balance and strength. I’ve seen a lot of older folks have trouble with that.”
In a separate seminar, called Group Fitness, participants learn low-impact aerobics, rubberized resistance training and stretching exercises. The Hunts also teach fitness walking techniques, which can be put to use during the Hunts-led Fun and Fitness Walk.
Quite an energetic bunch turns out for the two-mile walk, Wayne said, adding that he would like to see more motorhomers participate. “The ones who show up for the walking are just the neatest people. We enjoy that so much. We want everyone to come out and walk -- it should be a 10,000-person walk.”
The Fun and Fitness Walk is for all fitness levels. Participants may set their own pace.
At their seminars at FMCA conventions, the Hunts show that neither expensive, complicated equipment nor a big, open space is needed to exercise. They demonstrate exercises with devices used at their fitness instructor training workshops by students and trainers.
A variety of exercises can be performed with “exertubing,” a rubberized resistance band with handles on each end. “They’re lightweight but provide really good resistance. You can use them inside the motorhome. They’re waterproof, and come in several different sizes and levels of resistance,” Wayne said.
He exercises his shoulders, quadriceps and hamstrings using the tubing. He attaches the handles to the grab handles of the motorhome, to the awning frame or to the back of a chair. “You can do all sorts of exercises. That can be your entire gym.”
The Hunts also demonstrate the Resist-A-Ball, a 55- or 65-centimeter (diameter) sphere used to perform various exercises to develop core muscle strength and stabilization.
These products, with manuals sold separately, can be ordered at the PFIT Web site.
On the road again
The Hunts have been traveling by motorhome since the 1980s, and full-timing since 1995. “We had an incredibly small house and a huge yard in Texas,” Wayne said. “When we started traveling a whole lot, we decided motorhoming was the way to go.”
Wayne and Dahelia set up PFIT fitness training classes around the country, at places where they would like to visit. “On a recent trip to California, we spent 12 days teaching, and the rest of the time sightseeing,” said Wayne, who majored in engineering at Southwest Texas State University.
They have owned four motorhomes. Their current coach is a 40-foot Monaco Signature diesel pusher. “It has plenty of room and storage compartments for books and papers and exercise equipment. It’s comfortable for us.”
It’s not surprising that two people who promote physical activity are on the move six months out of the year. At the next convention, they’ll have plenty of FMCA members “on the move” as well.