Sober man exercises while traveling in his van

Gym on the Go

Graduate Blog: a travel, health and personal evolution lifestyle blog.

By Ryan Howsley Graduate
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Forget about your typical gym set up — its gone. Forget about having a standard/daily routine — also gone. Welcome to my world of creative workouts that must endure through the elements. Long gone are the days of air conditioned gyms, weight machines, and treadmills – on the road it is up to me to adapt to my surroundings and work with mother nature to get in a daily sweat. Whether I find myself deep within a snow-capped mountain range or roasting on a beach where the sand singes my toes, I am required to find alternative ways to workout — and this has proven to be much easier said than done, especially now that summer has become a full-force situation.

Finding the motivation to exercise when we are already sweating by simply sitting under the shade of our Palapa in the summer heat has certainly taken its toll on the consistency of our workouts. On those blazing hot days, we most often find ourselves barely moving (other than to surf, of course) to avoid frying our skin, toes and sweat glands. More than Jess, this sort of daily {non}activity (ie; sitting under a Palapa, surfing when the tide is right, and eating when we are hungry) has brought me to my wit’s end and I have had to take a step back and re-evaluate my situation.

The truth is, by moving into the van and deserting my daily, consistent routine of action-based activities, my sobriety has been put to the test on multiple occasions. I am no longer surrounded by the core group of guys that I have identified with for the past year and instead, I am now either in complete solitude with Jess or I am surrounded by gypsy travelers that continuously talk about two things: passport stamps and parties. Each time I consider joining in the fun and cracking open a beer – because hey, what is one beer combined with boredom? – it takes a few moments of reflection to realize that this weakness is on a day (or series of days) that I also chose to be lazy and forego a solid workout. The conclusion of each and every test to my sobriety: physical activity is the key.

Before we embarked on this van life journey, I was within a 5 miles radius of at least twenty guys that I could call to share a hike, climb, surf, gym or ball session. Now, well, to put it bluntly, Jess can be pretty lazy. She sees no problem with spending the day on the beach, in the shade, reading a book and barely moving except to eat. I have come to accept that my only motivation to keep active must come from within myself and I have taken this opportunity to step up both, my self-reliance and my leadership role within our relationship.

I have taken on the responsibilities of two major aspects within our new lifestyle; being the primary driver through the crazy and insane roads that dominate the undiscovered treasure of Baja and being the sole motivator AND leader of every single sweat party. This is quite a change from being able to go to scheduled, familiar group workouts with my friends, but I have actually found my motivation to work out in being “the other driver” for Jess.

Trust is what relationships are built on, and trust is also at the core of “the other driver” concept that I learned and embraced while in recovery  at Tree House in Costa Mesa, California. Since moving into the van, Jess has learned to trust in both my work-out guidance and my off-road driving skills. By her placement of trust and reliance in me (making me her “other driver”) I find my motivation to both workout and motivate Jess to get off her lazy butt. By keeping active, I am not only keeping myself healthy, but I am keeping myself sane and sober.


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