Fitness App Development Guide: Best Tips for Business Owners & Startups
It’s difficult to imagine our lives without digital technologies. They’ve transformed almost every industry, and the fitness one is not an exception.
In this guide, we’ve gathered our knowledge & expertise on fitness app development to help you figure out the best strategy for your project and find a reliable Tech Partner. So the guide is the most relevant for:
Owners of offline fitness businesses — gyms, yoga studios, health clubs, and others — who want to enhance the experience of their members with a Mobile or Web App.
Teams with F&F or Angel Funding that need to build an MVP and are trying to figure out possible costs and the best strategy.
Online fitness businesses and teams that already have a Mobile or Web app and would like to scale their products for other Mobile or Web Platforms.
A health and fitness app can help to improve reach, retention, and engagement in many ways:
🌎 The location doesn’t matter that much anymore. You can have customers from anywhere — whether it’s another city or even another country.
🌨 Whatever the situation outside is — a pandemic, a hurricane, or a heavy snowfall — users can still access your content or join you on your live online workout.
⏯ The content used in fitness apps is reusable. It means you can record it once and then sell to as many users as there will be willing to buy it. Thus, you can expect a good RoI (return on investment).
👍 Fitness applications enable a personal approach to customers. It helps to tailor your services to the goals of your members and build a stronger and more long-lasting relationship.
🔔 Reminders and push notifications help retain customers by reaching out to those who stopped using your services for some reason.
🕹 Gamification & customization features contribute to higher engagement and keep people interested in using your services for a longer time.
Moreover, despite all the challenges, the online fitness industry is forecasted to reach $59 million by 2027, showing a huge jump from $6 million in 2020. It means that the industry will keep growing — and it’s a good time to catch the wave!
Also, while offline-only fitness businesses had mainly suffered from the COVID-19 lockdowns, it turned out to be an opportunity for the online fitness industry. This led to a 33% annual growth rate which is one of the best results among all the industries.
However, it’s also pushed some changes within the industry. Let’s take a look.
👾 How the СOVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Fitness App Development and What You Should Do About It
While it’s challenging to find an industry not influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more challenging to find one affected more than the fitness industry.
Both huge fitness chains like 24 Hour Fitness and small family yoga studios have been hit hard first by lockdown and then by new rules and restrictions that followed. However, it’s also opened up new possibilities, especially in terms of reach.
For example, here's the app by the 24 Hour Fitness chain:
The COVID-19 lockdowns pushed digital transformation in the fitness industry. It’s no longer a competitive advantage but rather a way to stay connected with your members.
That’s why many businesses turn to fitness app development:
On the one hand, such apps can provide users with virtual content so they can continue using your services while staying at home or in a park near the place they live.
On the other hand, you may develop an ERP-like software to improve the management of your in-club processes.
The high demand for fitness apps can be also proven by taking a look at Google Trends statistics:
Difficult not to notice the 2 peaks in winter and spring 2020, showing the huge increase of interest in fitness apps.
Yet, before you hire a fitness app developer and make your own web or mobile app, let’s figure out what strategy you should follow.
📝 General Strategy for Your Fitness App Development
As we’ve mentioned, there are many strategies to follow when it comes to making your own health and fitness application.
It may be something for your users with live content. Or it may be a “Netflix-like” app with pre-recorded sets of exercises. Or it may even be a Web App for internal use by your staff to manage classes, сreate & share content as well as track revenue and expenses.
Yet, no matter what option seems to match your business needs best, the overall strategy can be described in a more or less similar number of steps. These will be:
- Evaluate your assets — What resources that you can contribute to fitness app development do you have right now?
It can be almost anything: money, time, equipment, existing platforms & tools you already use to create and deliver digital content, available coaches, or maybe even content you might already have, etc.
- Set your goals — What would you like to achieve by creating a fitness app?
It will help you decide on the type and features of your future app. Thus, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your Development Team should look like as well as a possible project budget.
- Decide on the type of content — Based on your goals and available resources, what content would you like to provide to your members?
In general, there are 4 main types of online fitness content. You may focus on one of them or mix a few to provide a better experience. These are:
- Online pre-recorded workouts.
- Live streaming classes.
- Audio coaching.
- Text list of exercises.
- Pick a platform — How will you deliver the content to your members?
Do you need to make a mobile or web app? Android and iOS, or just for a single platform? Or maybe you already have a website that you’d like to convert into a mobile app?
If you don't have enough resources to build such an app from scratch, think of other options you can use right now: for example, live classes via Zoom or Skype, or distribution of pre-recorded workouts in a WhatsApp group chat.
- Find contractors — Who can help you build your fitness app?
Finally, find the missing link in the whole process — a reliable Tech Partner. When you hire a fitness app development team, pay attention to their experience and expertise. For example, our team has delivered a few fitness applications so we have what to show if we’re reached with such a request once more.
- Do it!
Now you have all components of a successful fitness software development: the vision of your content, the goal, the platform to stay connected with your members, and the fitness app developers to make all this magic work. So go for it! :)
Let’s take a closer look at types of fitness applications to share some tips & help you pick the best option for your business needs!
📱 6 Main Types of Fitness Apps
In this part of our guide, we’ll provide you with some concepts of what your own fitness app may look like.
Basically, all fitness apps can be divided by the kind of content they provide (pre-recorded videos, audio, live content, etc.) and industry (yoga, fitness, mindfulness, nutrition, and others). Thus, your app idea will likely fall under one of the following types:
- Apps for health clubs, gyms, and yoga studios.
- ERPs and Management Software for your offline fitness business.
- Apps that mainly focus on virtual content — whether these are fitness apps like Fitbit or yoga apps like Asana Rebel.
- Fitness streaming applications like Peloton.
- Diet & nutrition applications.
- Mindfulness applications — meditation, mindful yoga, or fitness audio guides.
Luckily, we have detailed guides on each of the mentioned types. Thus, you can check the details by following relevant links further while we focus your attention on some key points.
🏪 Fitness Apps for Gyms, Yoga Studios, and Health Clubs
Such a health and fitness app is aimed at improving the customer experience of members that use your offline services. Yet, nothing stops you from combining this approach with some virtual content, to cover the customers that prefer to interact with you online.
Thus, owners of gyms, yoga studios, and fitness centers usually focus on the implementation of the following basic features in their workout apps:
|⚙️ Feature||📋 Description|
|🔐 Sign Up||Needed to identify users, and build more long-lasting relationships with users through personalized content & offers. That’s also a good way to cut off any other users except your members if you’re building a club-like app.|
|🗓 Scheduling||A user-friendly way for your members to book a class, group, or personal training. Probably the fastest & the most stress-free option as it takes just a few taps.|
|🧘♀️ Online Workouts||The feature can have a dozen forms: it may be pre-recorded fitness/yoga sessions, it may be live sessions with your coaches. When talking about yoga, it may even be photos or animated images that will show the right technique.
You can also use this feature as a monetization option. For example, you may sell such workouts online for non-members that can’t or don’t want to visit your location but still want to use your content.
|✅ Digital Check-In||The feature became especially relevant during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. With this feature you allow users to simply check-in via the app, reducing unnecessary person-to-person interactions. Users just have to confirm their location and arrival in the app and show the confirmation from the distance at the front desk of your studio.|
|📍 Studio Location & Details||With this feature, you can help users discover nearby locations of your clubs as well as simplify interactions with them: checking the list of trainers and classes there, buying a membership, reserving a class, or booking personal training.|
|💬 Chat||The importance of this feature rapidly grew during the lockdowns. It allows members to directly chat with their coaches to discuss exercises or show them videos to check the technique while working out outside of your studio: at home, in a park, etc.|
|🔔 Push Notifications||Finally, we always recommend adding push notifications as a way to retain your members, notify them, and stay in touch even when they are not using your app.|
Of course, the list above isn’t exclusive. Every case is different as you may aim to cover other business goals and need special features for that purpose. For example, you may enhance your app with features like:
- Blog — to keep users engaged with some health and fitness content on exercises, the right techniques, nutrition, etc. Moreover, members can give you extra promotion by sharing the articles on their social media.
- eStore — to sell staff related to your industry: blender bottles, yoga mats, sportswear, and others.
- Events — to notify members of the upcoming activities as some of them have moved outside: think of Yoga Morning in a park, for example. Moreover, users will be able to easily sign up for them.
If you’re interested in more details on fitness app development for gyms, yoga studios, and fitness centers, we recommend checking out the following guides:
📊 ERP and Management Software for Offline Fitness Businesses
Just like fitness applications, ERP and Management systems for the fitness industry weren’t invented yesterday. Yet, in the COVID and post-COVID times, they help to rebuild trust with members who are returning to gyms and fitness centers. Moreover, they are great helpers when it comes to managing customer flow under new rules.
Again, the “building blocks” can vary from project to project. But generally, such software includes the following functionality:
|👥 Membership Management||🦸♂️ Employee Management|
|Access all member data: account info, payment history, bookings, contacts, etc. The feature works like a CRM system, allowing you to build stronger connections with your members.||Manage your current employees: set salary, edit schedules & shifts, assign tasks.
At the same time, it’s also possible to track the performance of your employees.
|💸 Financial Management||🏋️♂️ Bookings Management|
|Your revenue & expenses — all in one place.
Track, predict possible revenue in the nearest months using AI-algorithms and get a clearer picture of how you spend your money.
|Set and manage the facility, time, coach, and class schedules so your members can book them via the website or mobile app.
Due to the new post-COVID regulations, that’s a really useful tool to manage the number of visitors at your locations, keeping them as full as possible but not violating new rules.
|You can also make more data-driven decisions based on various information: the typical portrait of your users, the most popular classes, busiest days, most productive coaches, etc.
Thus, you can spot unobvious connections and tailor your business to the needs of your audience even more.
Such a system can also be integrated with your fitness app. For example, you’ll be able to automatically add online users into your CRM system or have a special set of features to make and add virtual content.
You can also check the following article for more details of how you can streamline your in-studio processes with digital technologies:
🤸♀️ Fitness Apps with Virtual Content
This is one of the most popular types of fitness apps out there. Fitbit, Asana Rebel, apps by Leap Fitness Group — we bet you can continue this list on and on.
Why are they so popular?
Easy to use. Visiting physical gyms takes more effort. Virtual content can be accessed more easily: whether it’s 10 pm or 6 am; at home, in a park, or anywhere else while traveling.
Reusable content. When providing offline services, your coaches can’t hold more classes that it’s physically possible. Moreover, with the post-COVID limitations in place, the number of members who can visit your location at the same time is greatly reduced. Live online training can be accessed by far more users at the same time. A pre-recorded workout is even better: create once and it’ll be available to users again and again. It’s like having your own personal trainer in the pocket!
Mobile is a habit. Modern users often prefer mobile because it’s just the way they’ve used to live. For example, an average US adult spends almost 3 hours a day on his smartphone. That’s especially true for people up to their 40s, who is likely your main target audience.
As we’ve mentioned, online workouts can be a part of a gym, yoga studio, or fitness studio app. Yet, a health and fitness app with virtual content can be also developed as a standalone product by Startup Teams, coaches building their personal brand, or other fitness enthusiasts.
Thus, such apps can have lots of features — from simple step counting and calorie tracking to a complex in-app video workout. They can be broken down into the following categories:
|🗃 Category||📄 Description||📱 Feature Examples|
|👁️ Tracking||Features that can be used on an everyday basis to get meaningful insides on the way of life your users have. Activity tracking apps don’t require any management from your side so it’s a good option if you don’t have enough resources to make your own content.||Step counter, sleep tracker, heartbeat monitor apps.|
|🥦 Nutrition||These are any features that can be found in diet apps. From tracking to providing guided support to those who want to lose weight or build muscle.||Calorie tracker, healthy recipes, food logging, live chats with a nutritionist, barcode scanner for quick food logging.|
|🏋️♂️ Workout||Features that directly relate to workouts and any other sports activities. Some of the features may improve customer experience in your fitness studio while others can offer a digital experience that can be accessed from anywhere: home, park, etc.||Running tracking, pre-recorded video workouts, exercise calendar, workout plans for different purposes.|
|💬 Social & Entertainment||These features help increase user engagement. They turn the app from a sole fitness tool into a social/entertaining app. Thus, users can compete with their friends or look at their fitness activities as at challenges to achieve.||Social media integration, friends list, leaderboards, achievements & badges, in-app point system.|
So the costs to make such an app will greatly depend on what blocks and what features within that blocks you’d like to implement. For example, activity tracking apps may look simple but will require lots of integrations with wearable devices and other third-party services.
The hourly rate of your team will also noticeably influence the final costs.
You can check this guide on fitness application development for a detailed description of features and a breakdown of costs:
🚴♂️ Fitness Streaming Applications
A live fitness app is an app with virtual content that provides users with an in-studio-like experience. That’s a great solution if you want to create some off-studio value for your members, and at the same time to keep that personal connection with them.
|🚴♂️ Peloton Case Study|
|Peloton is an American exercise equipment and digital fitness company. It focuses on selling stationary bicycles and holding one of the best fitness live-streaming classes to users all over the world.
While having over 10,000 different pre-recorded classes in their library, the company is mainly known for its live events. Such an approach helps to contribute to user engagement since people get live experience and exercise with coaches and other members in real-time.
It helps to build more continuous relationships with members. When buying a pre-recorded workout, it’s up to a user whether to complete it or not. And the rapid decline in retention is a known problem for the fitness industry — after some time people get tired, bored, or switch their attention to something else.
Live classes create a feeling of commitment that people have when attending offline fitness locations. It also helps to build a community so working out turns from a sole fitness activity into a social one.
This type of workout apps became especially popular during the 2019-2020 lockdowns. It was a great solution for gyms, yoga and fitness studios that had no resources to develop lots of pre-recorded content but were able to hold live workouts or yoga sessions with their customers via Skype or Zoom.
Many of them then switched to personal trainer apps with similar features but a far better user experience and performance.
For example, now there are many special YouTube guides on how you can set up a studio for live classes:
It’s also possible to mix different types of content: both ready-made and live sessions. Thus, you’ll meet the expectations of your members who want to experience your workouts in real-time as well as access them whenever they need.
If you’re interested in more details and costs breakdown of Peloton-like app development, you can check this guide by our team:
🥗 Diet & Nutrition Apps
Healthy eating can be also considered a part of the fitness industry. There’s actually no contradiction here: you may already provide a great in-studio experience and not be willing to set up a brand new online branch. Thus, an app dedicated to healthy nutrition can provide additional value to your members rather than create competition between your offline and online services.
If you’re a nutritionist, having such an app will help you reach more people, and provide them with an enhanced experience.
If we look at the brightest examples of diet apps, they usually include the following features:
|📝 Sign Up||📊 Dashboard|
|So as to personalize the experience your users receive as well as keep their data linked to their specific account.||A general screen where a user can see his essential data (daily calorie and water intake, current weight, etc.).|
|🥗 Food Logging||💧 Hydration|
|A fast way for a user to track what he eats and automatically count consumed calories, carbs, protein, and fat within the app.||Automatically calculate optimal water intake and help users track how they manage to keep up with it.|
|🗂 Diet Plans||👩⚕️ Live Consultations|
|To provide even more value, you can not just track food and water intake but share some diet plans. It’s up to you to choose a format: either give curated content with recipes or simply calculate the optimal amount of calories and other nutrients to consume.||As a nutritionist, you likely hold consultations for your customers right in the app. Converting them into a digital online form can enlarge the potential number of your customers as now you aren’t limited by your current location. It also simplifies many interactions like file sharing.|
Again, you may come up with your own combination of features to emphasize those that match your domain expertise the most. For example, it may be a diet app for vegetarians with special attention to their eating habits, recipes they use, and the way of life they live.
You can learn more details and development costs of nutrition apps in the following guide:
🧘♀️ Mindfulness Apps
This group of applications may seem not exactly fitness apps but they have a lot in common. We’re talking about the apps like Headspace or Calm. However, the concept itself can be easily applied to the health and fitness industry.
|🏃♀️ Nike Run Club Case Study|
|For example, the idea of audio guides is successfully implemented in a popular fitness app like Nike Run Club. There users can listen to audio-guided runs by famous athletes, entertainers, and Nike coaches. Actually, nothing stops you from providing your own content — whether it’s yoga or workout sessions — in such a form.
Such a feature gives runners motivation and inspiration. Moreover, it also has its promotional effect as you may attract some users by cooperating with popular athletes, actors, bloggers, etc.
An alternative option is not to develop a standalone application but rather incorporate audio guides into your fitness app with a wider functionality. Again, there are no good or bad options — just those that match your idea and business needs better or worse.
Thus, audio guides can enhance the experience of your members and provide additional value to them. Or you can easily turn it into an extra monetization option and sell them like separate products.
We also recommend checking the following guide to find out more details as well as costs of meditation/audio guide app development:
🏃♂️ How to Integrate Apple’s Health, Google Fit, and Other Services into Your Fitness App
It’s possible to implement data exchange between your app and other popular fitness services. Here we mean not only fitness tracking products by Google (Google Fit) or Apple (Apple Health) but also applications and services by Garmin, Fitbit, Strava, Runtastic, Suunto, Withings.
That’s the easy way for users to synchronize their fitness activity among different platforms. After all, it allows users to achieve their personal goals more effectively.
For example, they may use the Nike Running Club app to track their jogging, and then transfer the data on daily step count, calorie loss, and running activity into Google Fit. Then you can get this data for your own app for live cycling workouts to provide users with more personalized workouts and insights based on the activity within and outside of your application.
Or let’s say you have a diet app. You’ll be more successful in helping users to lose weight if you have data on how much calories they burn during their workouts tracked by Fitbit wearable devices.
Enabling data exchange between your app and such services is done by the development team. Your fitness app developers will have to integrate public APIs of services you’d like to exchange data with.
In the following guide we tell more about each service and types of data it allows you to get as well as leave links to documentation for your dev team:
💸 How Much Does It Cost to Create a Fitness App?
Development costs actually depend on many factors. The key ones are:
An hourly rate of your application development company. For example, app developers from Eastern Europe usually charge around $40-50/hour while mobile development teams from Western Europe or the US may charge up to $200/hour for the same work.
Type of the mobile app as well as needed features. Thus, the costs will vary for workout apps, activity tracking apps, personal trainer apps, and others.
Needed technologies and tech requirements. For example, it will cost you more to create a fitness app for Android and iOS using a native approach rather than switching to React Native.
Luckily, all our health and fitness app development guides include rough estimates. Thus, you can have an idea of how much different mobile apps can cost.
|📱 Type of fitness app||⏳ A rough estimate of hours||💳 A rough estimate of costs|
|🏋️♂️ Fitness App like Fitbit||340-790||$13,600-$31,600|
|🚴♂️ Workout Streaming App like Peloton||658-846||$26,320-$33,840|
|🧘♀️ Yoga App like Asana Rebel||442-544||$17,680-$21,760|
|🥗 Diet or Nutrition App||470-580||$18,800-$23,200|
|😌 Meditation App Like Headspace or Calm||490-688||$19,600-$27,520|
These were our key insights into the fitness app development process. We hope that now you have a clear strategy on how to make your own health and fitness app. If we break it down into 3 simple steps, it will look as follows:
Now you’re all set and ready to make a fitness app of your own. If you’re looking to hire fitness app developers — we’re here to help! Drop us a line so we can see how we can contribute our health and fitness app development expertise to your idea!