Last November I was doing my Deep Dive Retreat for my business. I like to start my retreat by doing something physical out in nature to facilitate focus and clarity.

I chose Black Mountain, a steep hike about five minutes from my house. I had done it once or twice before with friends, and it seemed like a good place to get my mind right for the review of my business over the last year.

(I even wrote an article after that hike outlining how hiking parallels business. READ IT!)


The Best Five Fitness Apps That Will Make You Better


But it was the other thing I did that day that leads to our current discussion.

I tracked my hike on a fitness app called STRAVA. I had used STRAVA before for some inline skating training runs, but I had never used it for hiking.

I was just using it to get a feel of how long the hike took so that I would know for next time. But at the end of the hike, something happened.

I got to the bottom, and I saw my time for the round trip. Then I saw that there were segments already laid down for Black Mountain. I wondered, “What is a segment?”

A segment is when someone has “laid pins” on certain parts of a trail or road. By “laying pins” it means that others are held up against all the other STRAVA users when they run, hike, or swim through that segment.

What? Suddenly I am no longer Heather Denniston. I am Heather Denniston, number 24 of all time hikers, number 16 of all time women, number 9 of women this year.

I found myself at the foot of Black Mountain the following morning. 24th place was simply not acceptable.  Each hike became a challenge to see if I could better my last time and perhaps improve my standings against some of the other users.

With time and practice, I wasn’t stopping anymore on the way up, and I was skip-hopping down instead of walking. I now arrived back at my car panting and sweating and quick to grab my phone to see how I did.

Enter Britta.

“Britta” – Number one for Black Mountain segment “top to bottom” on STRAVA  women this year.

Name just conveys intimidation and fear.

Probably some Euro, Bratwurst-eating, hikey pioneer woman with huge calves.

As the year went on “Britta’” became my singular focus. I “chased” her for months always eluding her 14.9 time.

My times were improving though, and I was feeling fitter than I ever had. I would leap down that hill yelling, “On your left!” like Tea Leoni in Spanglish.

About two weeks ago I completed the hike and checked my stats. A little crown popped up on my screen.

“What the…”

QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN!!! I had done it! 13.44. I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited that I took a screenshot, called my husband, and literally jumped up and down. It was insane how motivating and encouraging documented personal progress can be!



A couple of weeks ago I was getting out of my car to hike. (I was queen, after all, I owed my people an appearance.) I set my STRAVA, and got underway. All of a sudden a woman passed me. Passed me!

Not having it.

I stayed close on her heels the whole way up. She was barely breathing hard. I put head down and hiked the ten feet behind her the whole 24.3 minutes to the top. (My best time up ever).

I crested shortly behind her black lulus and said,

“Wow, you are fit, you are not even breathing hard.”

“I do this hike a lot.” (Slight German accent.)

Wait a minute!

“Are you on STRAVA?” I asked

She looked at me oddly and nodded


She said, “Yes.” (Her face said, “You better not be a psycho killer.”)

Are you kidding me? I run into my virtual hiking nemesis on the top of the mountain?

“I am Heather!!!!!”

It took a second and then recognition. We could not believe it! We had a good giggle about the stats and then off we went down the mountain.She was far from Bratwursty in her cute hiker outfit by the way! 



Apps can be extremely motivating. They help keep you consistent in your fitness pursuits, and they are fun, challenging and stave off boredom. They can drive you to personal bests or just serve to get you off your butt.


 Here are the five fitness apps that drive you to be a better you!


STRAVA – As I have already mentioned above STRAVA is great for “mapping” anything from hiking to running to inline skating. But it is also designed as social connection for the world’s athletes. You get data including, mileage, elevation gains, speed as well as exposure to those locally grinding through some of the same segments as you. They even have a cool newsfeed to keep up with the people you follow.



CHARITY MILES – Too good to be true? Well, users of this app have already raised two million dollars. Upon signing up, you have 40 charities from which to choose to donate your “fitness dollars.” You are sponsored by a brand who then donates to the charity of your choice just by you logging activates like walking the dog, shoveling snow, or going to the gym. “Every mile counts” has never been truer!



PACT – Ever bet on yourself? Now you can. PACT is a free app, but wagering money is the point. All participants ante up money that goes into a communal fund. Then as you stick to your commitments or not, you get paid, or you pay up.



MYFITNESSPAL – One of the best, well-rounded apps available. Track your food, your fitness, your water and much more. Since it is one of the oldest fitness apps out there, it is also one of the most seasoned and user-friendly. You can also invite friends to hold you accountable, set goals, and check macros and nutrition breakdown.



J AND J 7 MINUTE – This app is centered on the interval concept of HIIT workouts. The workouts are short but very intense. They are based on the science of getting the most efficient and effective workout possible. There are 72 exercises to work from, and all of your data is tracked clearly on a dashboard. You can also share your results with friends for a little healthy competition.




ZOMBIES, RUN – Motivated by fear? Here you go. This app is exactly what it suggests. Your mission is to outrun the “zombies” to the “home post” while collecting supplies along the way. One mission a week is free, or the pro version allows you to unlock several hundred missions all at once.

PRICE: FREE (pro version available.)


CARROT – For some, abuse is what works. Meet “CARROT” your computer generated butt kicker! CARROT inspires through threatening and sarcastic statements. Be prepared to be ridiculed! (It is actually hilarious!) Her workouts are based on the 7 Minute workout science from the app mentioned above, so sessions are intense and quick.

PRICE: 3.99


This week how about downloading some fitness apps to help motivate you! My challenge is to try two of these fitness apps and see which one works best for your needs.


How About A Free “Create Your Own Stairs Workout.” Just drop your email below, and it will come right to you!