Modifying Workouts in the Great Outdoors

It feels so nice to be able to blog again! We had an amazing time at Grand Teton National Park (post about our perfect camping experience coming very soon). We had very spotty cell signal during our entire stay at the park, so I wasn’t able to do much except upload one picture and post a little update on the  What Are We Up To? page.

Awesome campsite views, not the best cell signal

We should have service for the next week or so at least, so I hope to get back into our blogging groove.

A couple days ago, I did a workout at our campsite, like I normally do. I love exercise. I’ve been exercising regularly for about 6 years now and have not fallen off the bandwagon once! I guess you could say it’s determination, but in my mind, it’s more like a habit. It’s good for my mind (my #1 motivator), body, and soul.

During this workout, I did a lot of modifications to the workout using stuff I found around our campsite, and I thought it might be interesting to share how I manage to work out despite not having much equipment! So I had Tim come outside and take some pictures of me while I was working out in front of the Tetons.

Rather than do a general post on “here’s how I modify my workouts in the wild”, I wanted to focus in on a specific workout, then I’ll show you the exact changes I made.

As I mentioned in my previous post on exercise, I’m a fan of Aaptiv and I use their workouts regularly. On this particular day, I did an intermediate level full-body strength training workout from one of my favorite Aaptiv trainers, Ackeem. Here’s a screenshot of the workout from the app:

Notice the workout is downloaded…the things you do when you have no cell service (the 3 bars of LTE was a huge lie)

This workout had 4 circuits, and about half of the exercises were centered around something I do not have: a bench. In a perfect world, I would have a bench, and I certainly had one at the gym. Living in an RV makes hauling a bench around with you kind of impossible.

Circuit 1

Glute Bridges – need bench

Single leg bench hops – need bench

Jumping squats

Circuit 2

Bear planks

Push ups  – need bench for advanced modification

Shoulder taps

Circuit 3

Chest presses – need bench

Dips – need bench

Circuit 4

Walking lunges

Plyo lunges


Each of these circuits were performed 3 times through and had 45 second intervals per exercise, with 15 seconds rest. Including rest time, it made for a 50 minute workout.

Okay…now it’s time to get creative. For half of this workout, I don’t have the bench I need. If I’m at a campground, I’ll use the picnic table. But when you’re boondocking, there are zero amenities – certainly not a picnic table! So it was time to get creative.

Single Leg Bench Hops

I modified these by using a log with a flat bottom for my stabilizing leg. I then hopped left and right with my other foot. Then I switched legs.

Doing improvised bench hops on a log

Glute Bridges

For this exercise, you are supposed to place your heels on a bench and squeeze your glutes upwards. With no bench in sight, I used a pre-existing fire ring. I found a couple stable rocks, put my feet on them, and used my yoga mat under me since the ground was really dusty.

Glute bridge- before the lift. You can see how I’m using the fire ring to elevate my feet.

Push Ups

I used the same flat-bottomed log to give my push-ups a bit of incline. The Aaptiv app said to put your feet on the bench for a decline pushup, but I am not strong enough for those (beyond a few reps) just yet.

Slightly inclined pushups on a log

Chest Presses

I used a different log as my bench for chest presses and dips. Although it wasn’t nearly as comfortable and supportive as a bench that you’d find in a gym, it still did a good job of allowing me to get a good range of motion in my chest press (the whole reason for doing them on a bench in the first place).

Sitting on the log, before I laid back to press


Mid press

There you have it – some of the random ways I improvised for my workout. Don’t let lack of equipment be a barrier to your exercise. It’s surprising how well you can make do with some very rudimentary pieces of “gym equipment” – rocks and logs! One person I talked to one time told me that they fill a 5 gallon bucket with rocks and carry it around. I haven’t quite gotten there yet (just doesn’t sound like fun?) but point being…nature can be a pretty darn good gym if you think outside of the box.

Fitness Stuff I Love for my Nature Gym

10lb Dumbells

20lb Dumbells

Jade Yoga Mat

Yoga Mat Cleaner

If you’re interested in how I work out while on the road, please check out this other post: Exercise While Living in an RV




  1. LOVE this article in particular, and the photos make it complete! Can only imagine how warm it is with added tree bark. Powerful work Hannah!!

  2. Love the improvs! When we first hit the road I was worried about getting fat and lazy but so far that hasn’t happened. We are much fitter than we ever were even when we had all the fitness gear we wanted in our stick house. There’s so much opportunity on the road to be active it would be hard for us to ignore it.

    The only problem I’ve found these days is that apps are terrific, but if you rely on them, your whole routine goes into the tank when you are off-grid. We have satellite internet but I hate to waste my preciou$ bandwidth on anything that’s not work-related, so I always look for apps I can use in off-line mode. The 7 minute workout app is one and so is Downward Dog yoga.

    Keep up the blogging and see you on the road!

    1. You’re right…opportunity abounds for outdoor activity! And I like that my fitness has become more functional, hiking up hills, endurance, etc rather than just lifting weights in a gym. It feels more productive.

      I had to make sure to download some Aaptiv workouts before we went into the spotty service area (thankfully other RVers told us about it!). When I don’t have any connectivity at all I use a paper and pen and write out a circuit workout for myself!

      Thanks for reading!

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