Van Essential – Gym membership aka shower
Living in a van, over regular RV, comes with some inherent bonuses; We are smaller making us more mobile. Our fuel costs are generally lower. Vans are cheaper to maintain and easier to work on ourselves. There are numerous reasons (all valid to one degree or another) to choose a van over a full sized RV or trailer. Where van living suffers in comparison, is our space. A van has such limited space to store things that we lose out on some basic needs at times, one of which is a shower… and that is where a gym membership comes in handy.
Personally, I started going to the gym regularly before I started living in my van. Originally I went to the gym to workout, not for my personal hygiene. My first gym was a local ‘mom-n-pops’ establishment only a few blocks away from the house, and did not even have showers. It served me well as long as I was paying rent and living in the same location. Once I began taking road trips and spending more time in the van then at the house, I needed a gym that would come with me, no matter where I was.
Planet Fitness is one national chain that probably has the best price you can imagine. If you are lucky enough to have one in your home town, and do not plan to travel often, you can have a membership for $10 per month without any contract. For an additional $10 per month (and 1 year contract) you get access to all the gyms in the nation which number in the hundreds. They are large, clean, no pressure gyms usually missing the heavy duty weight lifters that so easily intimidate a fresh recruit, and are open 24/5 (the close overnight on weekends). A large communal locker room with multiple shower stalls (not private) gave me opportunity to workout and shower while out on the road. The downfall of Planet Fitness turned out to be it’s size. Because they require so many memberships to cover the overhead of such a large facility, Planet Fitness gyms are only found in larger metro areas… and I tended not to be in those areas.
Recently, I joined another gym; Anytime Fitness. Anytime Fitness has thousands of gyms in the nation. Obviously, they are much smaller in size, but they still offer the same machines and weights of the larger gym. They are also, significantly more expensive at $40 per month. However, finding an Anytime Fitness gym in a small town off the Interstate was possible, and you could find numerous gyms in the large metro areas. Each gym also has private bathrooms with showers and are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. In fact, each member has his or her own key to enter the doors, meaning you can go in at irregular times and not feel ashamed if you are only there for a shower.
There are other national gyms that you could consider as well, but these are the two I have had experiences with. If you are not looking to have a monthly gym membership there are also truck stops which I have found to be very clean and safe, community centers (some may have gym), and public pools. The problem is, if you wish to shower regularly, you are likely to spend more going this route then a gym membership.
Lastly, there is always the fail-safe and centuries old technique of a bowl of warm water and a clean rag to to take care of the necessities.