Being on the road definitely has its’ advantages. From the incredible sights and the fact that you get to travel basically across the country for free- tons of us like to stay OTR as long as possible.
But, being OTR also has some severe disadvantages. For instance, it’s hard to find a reliable gym to stay at.
So, today- we are going to be talking about different truck stops with gyms, and how to get a good workout in while you’re on the road, whether you’re just trying to stay toned or be one of the most famous bodybuilders in the world.
Let’s get into it!
#1 – TA StayFit, BEST Option! (Travel Centers of America)
- Basically free.
- Has decent stuff to keep you ‘toned’– but not good stuff to really grow massive amounts of muscle like a bodybuilder would.
- Most truckers choose TA as their favorite truck stop anyways, so it’s on the way and a great place to get a good workout in while refueling or on your break.
- You can find TA’s with StayFit locations here: https://www.ta-petro.com/amenities/stayfit-locations
TA is one of those trucker classics. If you don’t know what a TA is, (the full name is Travel Centers of America) you probably have never driven a semi in your life.
Not trying to be rude, but literally, TA’s are like EVERYWHERE.
Many truckers OTR usually figure out which truck stop becomes their favorite preeeety quickly.
Love’s usually comes to mind for most truckers, but TA is also one of the more famous options out there. (And of course, Kwik Trip wins by default if you’re in the midwest…)
So, TA actually realized part of this trucker dilemma. Something about not moving for 8 hours a day (well, I’m saying 8 hours in case any state troopers are reading this post…please don’t check my logbook!) ends up being pretty bad for your health.
And that’s combined with the fact that when you’re OTR, your eating habits aren’t usually great.
TA is one of the most famous truck stops out there, as I said above. So, they released this thing called TA ‘StayFit’. And for the most part, it’s free.
That’s right, whenever you go to a TA, most of the exercise facilities are completely free. The idea is that, if you’re going to a TA for the gym- chances are you’re going to be swiping your company credit card to refuel your truck’s diesel there too. (And when you consider that you can be putting hundreds of gallons of diesel back in your rig, that profit for TA starts to add up)
This is probably the best option for most people out there. A gym that you don’t have to pay for, or really go out of your way for considering you can take your rest, refuel, and even eat at the TA.
Plus, we all know that refueling your rig can take a fricken long time. So, even just hitting the gym real quick for 10 minutes and coming back before your rig is done refueling can make a difference in your health in the long run.
(For real, you can actually get a lot done in 10 minutes if you bust your behind and don’t sit around on your phone in the gym)
However, most of us will refuel, then take our 30 in the parking lot. This is a great time to hit the gym, 30 minutes can be a great workout honestly. Then you can grab some food and hit the road again.
Are TA StayFit Gyms Good?
Honestly, TA StayFit gyms aren’t GREAT, but they aren’t really that bad either.
It really depends on your location- some TAs have MINIMAL gym equipment.
For instance, I live in the MIDDLE of nowhere America, for real. In fact, I live by the only TA for basically a 200-mile radius. It only has a basketball court, horseshoe toss, and bean bag toss. That isn’t really ‘fitness’ equipment most truckers are looking for.
Yet, if you head over to the TA in a much bigger city, you might find things like: running machines, resistance bands, some machines, and exercise mats.
While this isn’t phenomenal by any means, it isn’t bad.
And most truckers aren’t trying to be the next Arnold, they are just trying to stay fit and stay in shape.
These gyms are a good way to keep your heart healthy, keep your fat in check, and get things off your mind.
But, if you’re looking for a more serious way to hit the gym, it may be worth it to check other options.
#2 – Pilot Flying J Truck Stops
Pilot Flying J- which is a weird way to say it. Most truckers just call the truck stop Pilot, has actually incorporated a ton of SNAP Fitness and Rolling Strong gyms into their own truck stop.
Now, this made a lot of media attention a few years ago, but there hasn’t been much on it since.
Pilot is a truck stop found everywhere, but the MAJORITY of locations are in the southeast United States. According to a media release, “Popular truck stop Pilot Flying J has recently opened up a series of express gyms in Tennessee, Dallas and Georgia”.
Now, if you’re an OTR trucker that has a majority of their contracts in the southeast US or you live in any of those states, it may be worth it to start getting your fuel at one of those stops.
The catch is, you will have to have a SNAP Fitness or Rolling Strong membership to get into the gym. (However, scroll down to section #3 of this article, I talk about how your employer may be giving you a free/reduced SNAP Fitness membership without you even knowing it!)
Now, there hasn’t been much media attention about it lately, and they don’t really have a solid list of truck stops with gyms at Pilot either.
But, if you’re in the southeast, and you like Pilot- it may be worth it to check if they have a gym at that truck stop location!
#3 – Check Your Employer – They May Have Hidden Free Gym Passes
You’re an OTR trucker I’m assuming. So, I take it you already know that dispatch and your bosses sit in their air-conditioned office all day getting free food and pampered while you’re out there getting yelled at for not getting to your drop-off on time because your engine exploded and you didn’t repair it yourself somehow.
Sorry, little rant. But, we’ve all been there- right?
The truth is, your employer may actually have hidden free gym passes for you. Usually, it’s included with your health insurance- but they only really advertise it to the people sitting at HQ back home in administration.
But, anybody on the insurance plan is usually eligible for it. It’s just, they rarely ever advertise the amenities.
Usually, the way this works is like this:
- Your insurance will pay you back for whatever gym membership you get (usually places like Anytime Fitness, SNAP Fitness, and Planet Fitness have global ‘key fobs’- so you can access any gym in the country with your membership)
- OR, your insurance will give you a discounted gym pass that you’ll pay like $10-20/month for and it will give you access to tons of gyms across the country.
I’m telling you guys, they really don’t EVER advertise this to you.
One of my trucker buddies for a small-time company in the midwest had company health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield. He had no idea that they offered a program that gives him access to basically every gym in the country for $30/month. So, wherever he went OTR, he could go to a HIGH-QUALITY gym (like Anytime Fitness, SNAP, etc) with real dumbbells, power racks, et cetera.
- Read: Fitness Your Way Review
I, personally, have been using Active & Fit Direct. It’s $25/month or something and gives me access to basically every gym in the country too.
If you go into a normal gym, they’ll give you the stretch of “ohhh, you have to do a 2 year contract, and pay $90/month, with a ton of annual fees” LAME.
Doing it through your insurance company is not only way cheaper monthly, but saves you from the redundant annual and weird other fees involved.
Plus, if you sign up for a single gym like Anytime Fitness or SNAP Fitness alone, if you get to a truck stop and there isn’t that specific gym nearby- you’re SOL.
BUT, If you use the program through your insurance, you’ll usually have access to multiple different franchises of gyms. So, it wouldn’t matter if you’re by SNAP Fitness or Anytime Fitness- you still have access.
For real guys, ask your admin if they got any programs like that- it’s not like they were doing anything else anyways. (Unless your truck breaks down, then they start yelling at you like they even knew you had a shipment that day)
Unfortunately, That’s About It
Unfortunately, that’s about it. Not a lot of truck stops really care about putting gyms at the truck stops.
There have been some recent cries for attention, and places like SNAP Fitness and Anytime Fitness have made media attention by trying to incorporate their gyms with truck stops, but there hasn’t been really anything major in the last decade.
While I’d love to provide a massive list like, ‘X has this, and Y has this’- it just doesn’t exist even in 2021.
I definitely wish there was more attention to this, and I think a lot of truckers would like it too.
Perhaps Love’s could read this and start making a difference- but TA is really your best bet.
So, here are some alternative ‘options’ to kind of getting the best of both worlds.
#3 – Get a Global 24/7 Gym Pass
Let’s assume that your employer doesn’t offer a gym pass, or none of the truck stops you encounter have a gym.
Now, I always recommend calling your insurance company up and seeing if they have a fitness program- they usually do- but we’re going to assume that even then they don’t have anything.
Your best bet is to get a global 24/7 gym pass.
Now- you may be thinking- what does that mean?
Well. My first gym membership (and many people’s first gym memberships) are just some local gym in their hometown that only gives them access to that particular gym.
For instance, my gym membership was at my local high school. You may have one at your local YMCA that doesn’t transfer globally or something.
The goal is, you want to get a gym membership at a place that has a global/country-wide membership. This means that no matter where you are in the country, you can access one of their gyms.
- Read: Planet Fitness Hydromassage – A great way to unwind after a long day in the truck.
The thing is, with these gyms- even if you’re in a whole different state, you can still access any of their gyms with the key fob they give you. It’s literally awesome. You don’t need to go in during business hours or anything- you just go when you feel like it.
And truthfully, for most OTR truckers, sometimes the night is the only option you have to go to the gym.
Be sure to check out my list of gyms with the most locations if you’re a trucker, it may help you make a better guess on which gym will be better suited for you depending on if you run rural/urban routes more frequently.
And these memberships aren’t crazy expensive or anything either. Usually just like $40/month. But, you can use them country-wide. Plus, it’s a real gym with dumbbells, barbells, showers, et cetera.
This is honestly your best bet.
You may be concerned about parking, which is understandable. A lot of truckers say that Planet Fitness parking lots tend to be HUGE, so that may be a gym you want to lean towards (even if they don’t really have dumbbells/barbells).
- Read: Why Planet Fitness is Bad (For some people)
I’d also recommend getting a small bike to put in the back of your rig. If you’ve got a sleeper, you’d actually be surprised how easy it is to get a bike back there- and it’s literally invaluable. It’s not only well, great for getting around- but also your health.
I’d just park at like a Walmart and bike to the gym, they usually aren’t too far (.4-.5 miles away from big places). Then you can get some good after-workout protein right at Walmart.
#5 – Adjustable Dumbbells in the Truck (Best Option, honestly)
I’m surprised other people rarely recommend this. Get some adjustable dumbbells in the truck.
Basically, it’s two dumbbells combined in one holder right- so it takes up minimal space. But you’re able to adjust the weight all the way from say 15 lbs to 60 lbs. (And I mean, depending on how strong you are, you can get models that have even more weight).
So literally, it takes up the space of two dumbbells, but you can change them in LITERALLY the flip of a switch. It genuinely takes seconds to change the weight.
That means you can have different weights for your biceps, triceps, chest, back, etc. Honestly having an adjustable dumbbell set that goes up to 60 lbs is actually really good for growing muscle. Even if you’re on the road trucking, you’d be able to put on a decent amount of muscle.
I’m serious, when you look at programs like Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass, a good portion of those workouts every day are just literally dumbbell exercises.
Honestly, I recommend just picking up the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable dumbbells, they are probably the most purchased and reliable adjustable dumbbell set out there.
#6 – Try YouTube Trucker No Equipment Bodyweight Workouts (Buff Dudes)
Honestly, some of those bodyweight workouts ain’t even bad. While they won’t be the things putting on a ton of muscle, they are GREAT for your heart health and maintaining muscle.
Like, if you have no other options for gyms or anything (Say you’re doing a multi-day trip in rural America/the mountains) it may be worth it to do some of those bodyweight workouts.
You can see a big difference in someone just doing some of these bodyweight workouts and people that aren’t exercising at all on the road. If you got no other option, these are great.
Here’s a simple one that I really like, it’s really good for beginners (it’s designed for trucking and has an awesome soundtrack):
Conclusion of Truck Stops With Gyms
Honestly, your two best bets are TA and Pilot for truck stops with gyms, but even that can be hard to come by sometimes.
Look at your company and see if they offer free gym memberships, chances are- they do. Most companies actually offer it through health insurance without you even knowing- especially in 2021 where gym memberships are like the next big thing.
And if you can’t do that, get a gym membership that has country wide access for roughly $40-50/month at a place like Anytime Fitness or SNAP Fitness.
And as a last resort, get some adjustable dumbbells (although, these may be good to get regardless of your situation) or do some bodyweight trucker workouts.