A pioneer of women’s college hoops, Marian E. Washington, 61, coached hundreds of young women throughout her 31-year career at University of Kansas. But in 2004, she was sidelined herself. “It took a lot of effort to get our [basketball] program off the ground,” she says, reflecting on the years of wear and tear that led her to retire. “It became a national program with very little support, but it I didn’t realize how much I was beating myself up with lack of sleep and whatnot. I decided it was time for me to step back from the game.”

But Washington realized that her passion for motivating people did not have to end. This past November, she launched TrackandFitness.com, an online tool that takes its members on virtual tours across the country by tracking their daily activities and exercise. “Obesity is a scary epidemic in this country,” she says. “It impacts people of all ages, especially black women.”

Real Health: How does TrackandFitness.com work?
Washington: We don’t realize how many calories we are actually burning in everyday activities. Our site helps you calculate that—it breaks down everything you do during the day: cleaning the house, playing with the kids, mowing lawns, walking, biking and jogging. Every calorie burned and every activity accomplished translates into an extra step or mile of your virtual trip across the country. You can plan a trip to anywhere in the United States from the Sante Fe Trail, to the Colorado Mountains to New York City, all from your home. You can virtually see yourself moving through your journey and experiencing the sites. [I hope] this will motivate people to work harder to get to their destination.

And the best thing is that you can form teams with friends, family, children and even strangers to take a journey together, share your weight loss stories and compete against other members online. This is great for individuals who complain about not having anyone to work out with.

Real Health: It sounds expensive!
Washington: Not at all, it is absolutely free.

Real Health: Where did you get the idea? 
Washington: Over 20 years ago, I was watching a broadcast about a man who walked from California to New York. I kept thinking, “Gosh, I know he lost a lot of weight, but I don’t think I would want to be outside with the weather to do that.” But I loved that sense of traveling from one end of the country to the other.  So I began to build on that idea, but back then the Internet was not what it is today. Yet, during my retirement, the idea resurfaced and with the help of the company Insight Motion, it became a reality.

Real Health: What are your hopes for TrackandFitness.com?
Washington: That it will grow and help make exercise fun again. We are working so much that when we come home, we either sit down or make that meal, not exercise. Plus, so many of us are limited with our income, therefore we look to fast food and inexpensive starches. Bottom line: We need our people to get into better health. I hope that my site can motivate others to make that happen.