Aaron and Christine are on a mission; two intertwined missions, actually.
For the past year, the couple has been living full-time in their Airstream Interstate as they explore America and build a business helping their fellow RVers stay healthy.
“As soon as we decided to live on the road, we knew we were going to do online fitness and nutrition coaching,” says Aaron. “Once we got into the full-time RV lifestyle, we wanted to blend the two worlds together.”
This new life is the culmination of years spent seeking a simpler and more fulfilling life.
Both Aaron and Christine spent over a decade and a half charging up their respective corporate ladders. While that life brought rewards, it also took a terrible toll, including long hours and commutes. For many years, Christine commuted 100 miles a day from the couple’s Wisconsin home to her job in suburban Western Minneapolis.
When Aaron and Christine finally moved to the twin cities, they opted for an apartment rather than a house. That decision, and subsequent moves to smaller apartments, prompted an on-going downsizing of their possessions, a process the couple found liberating. Throughout this period, the two continued their professional ascent, which helped them sock away money and live debt-free.
Life was good, but something was missing.
“We just kept going through the motions,” says Christine. “We knew that we wanted to do something substantial with our lives, but we didn't know what. We kicked around the idea of starting a new business, but we never came to an agreement on what we wanted to do together.”
“One day we were watching a documentary on YouTube called Exhibition Happiness,” says Christine. “It's about a German couple that refurbishes a school bus and travels the states. They just look so happy.”
Suddenly everything crystallized for Aaron and Christine.
Aaron said, ‘Well, maybe we should just do that.” My eyes got big and I looked at him and I'm like, ‘Yes.’ We surprised each other really. That one little movie changed our outlook on life. We knew that we wanted to get into the RV lifestyle and live full time on the road.”
In a bit of unfortunate timing, however, the couple had just signed an 18-month apartment lease. But that was OK with Aaron and Christine, who are meticulous planners. They used that time to research the new lifestyle, find a new RV, and figure out how to make a living on the road.
Aaron spent nearly all of those 18 months researching travel vans, before settling on a 2014 Interstate.
“I shopped every single manufacturer, and I had a good idea of all the differences,” says Aaron. “The main reasons we went with Airstream were quality and floor plan, since we both had to live and work in it. The dual-wardrobe Lounge model was just perfect for us. It has two swivel seats upfront, so there's a second living/working space. The Lounge in the back and the pantry space are important because we live in the van full-time and because we cook all of our meals in here. The tank capacity, which is larger than some competitors, was also a big factor.”
The Interstate’s design aesthetic was also a factor in their purchase decision.
“We loved the look of it,” says Christine. “This bright white interior, the cream bamboo color. It was really bright and inviting to us versus a lot of the coaches that we saw, which were super dark and dingy feeling. We really like the ambience of our Interstate, the little Airstream touches.”
Aaron and Christine also appreciate the mobility and flexibility offered by their Interstate, which they named Irene.
“We knew we wanted a Class B RV so we could pick up and go wherever, whenever,” says Aaron. “New York City is a perfect example. We drove into Manhattan and stayed there. You just park your van, walk around all day, and go back to your van as you need food and water and breaks. We did that for a few days, and it was just unbelievable. We did the same thing in other large cities like New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, LA, not to mention multiple National Parks.”
The couple’s first year on the road has taken them down the entire East Coast, down the West Coast and across the country.
“We’ve driven 16,000 miles, but that’s less than Christine and I would have commuted this year,” says Aaron.
Along the way, they’ve become an engaged part of the full-time RVer community.
The beauty of the community is that we are all like-minded people,” says Christine. “We're in this lifestyle by choice. Other full-time RVers share your values – travel, the spontaneity of life, and experiences over things. It's not like in a traditional neighborhood where you run into 20 people throughout the day, and you might have something in common with the two of them. In the RV community, it’s almost prescreened, people are automatically connected.”
The couple’s new “neighborhood” is a core market for their business, Iron Irene Fitness, which provides online fitness training and nutritional guidance. A life-long fitness buff, Christine is certified in both personal training and nutrition coaching. As she came to know more full-time RVers, Christine realized the lifestyle can present unique challenges to staying healthy.
The name Irene Iron Fitness pays homage to the strong women in Christine's family. Irene is Christine's middle name and also her Grandmother's first name and Great-Grandmother's middle name. Appropriately, Chris and Aaron passed along the family name onto their Interstate as well!
“We saw how some RVers really don't live healthy at all,” says Christine. “They eat the fun stuff and want to try the restaurants in all the places they visit. I get the allure of that, but I really want to help other people in the community take care of themselves so they can live this amazing lifestyle for longer on the road.”
Christine and Aaron walk that talk. Most of their dinners consist of simple, healthy fare prepared in the Interstate.
“I cook a lot of one-skillet meals,” says Christine. “I make a lot of stir-frys...Asian stir-frys or one-skillet meals with protein, carbs, and vegetables all in one skillet. I focus on healthy protein centered food prep so that meals are quick and easy to whip together using limited kitchen space.”
Despite adopting what might seem like a life of leisure, Aaron and Christine retain their work ethic and ambition and these traveling evangelists for health and happiness will no doubt continue to seek that balance as their remarkable journey rolls on.
Follow along with Christine and Aaron on their Airstream adventures.