How Mobile Apps Help to Increase Reach, Retention & Engagement in the Fitness Industry

Published: October 12, 2020

18 min read

Last updated: December 15, 2023

Many offline businesses in the fitness industry come to the point where they wonder: “What else can I do?”.

They’re well-known, have loyal clients, and make good revenue. Some decide to open a new fitness studio but in another area, for instance. Yet, it costs a pretty penny.

Nowadays one of the best decisions we see is developing your fitness app. By 2027 online fitness industry size is aimed to reach $59,2 million from a bit more than $6 million in 2020. It shows us that having your own fitness app is not only relevant now but will be in the nearest future as well.

Fitness app (*image by [Martin Mroč]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Fitness app (image by Martin Mroč)

According to Allied Market Research, the online fitness industry is expected to witness the highest annual growth rate (~33%) compared to other industries because of the shut down of fitness studios and gyms all over the world because of the COVID-19.

If you have any business in the fitness industry — a gym, yoga or fitness studio, health club — or planning on starting it, or just interested in how exactly fitness apps help to increase reach and retention, this article is just the key for you.

📢 How Mobile Apps Influence Reach In the Fitness Industry?

Offline businesses in the fitness industry can have many clients, yet the number is always limited.

Such fitness businesses face many limitations: from their strong dependence on location to space in studios to the number of customers their coaches can work with.

Developing a fitness app significantly improves the situation.

Extend your clientele 📈

As a fitness business owner, you're likely dealing with the fact that customers of your business are the ones who either live or work nearby or it doesn’t take them much time to get there.

With a fitness app, things change. The location doesn’t have such a strong impact anymore. Clients can be from anywhere — from another city area to another country.

Fitness mobile platform (*image by [Fadhilah Rizky]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Fitness mobile platform (image by Fadhilah Rizky)

What is great about having your own app, your current offline customers can become users of your app and take different workshops, do additional training, or track their activity in an app. It works the other way as well: you can attract new users into your app and turn them into offline visitors of your gym or any other fitness studio.

In terms of improving reach, an app can attract many new only-digital clients — nowadays a lot of people prefer this type of fitness activity.

Moreover, offline-only gyms and fitness studios can’t fully cover the needs of busiest customers — they always work, study, take different courses, thus, and don’t have enough time for offline fitness.

By offering a mobile app, you allow them to save time on the road to and back, and to do exercises from their homes. Thus, you attract this huge group of clients as well.

Stay stable in any situation 🗻

The COVID-pandemic showed us that you never know how things are going to be tomorrow. Thus, it’s essential to always have a backup plan.

For you as a fitness business owner, a mobile app can be the solution. Whether it’s a global lockdown or severe weather there’s always your fitness app that allows customers to use your services anywhere.

Read Also

How СOVID-19 Impacts Fitness Industry Transformation

With such a solution, new users can join your community despite everything.

Speaking of coronavirus, gyms are in the top places where it’s easy to get corona. However, remote fitness services significantly help to “flatten the curve” and stop the spreading of the virus. That is why providing customers with an app will help them stay safe and still use your services which can be crucial for many people.

Home fitness (*image by [Sushama Patel]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Home fitness (image by Sushama Patel)

Moreover, some people won’t go to a physical gym even if it’s not locked — they’re simply afraid, and it’s understandable. But either way, you cover their needs as well.

Even if gyms don’t get completely locked down in the nearest future, the number of visitors most likely will remain limited. With an app, it’s possible to cover the needs of all your current or potential clients and don’t get under lockdown restrictions consequences that strongly.

Reuse your content ♻

With a fitness app, you can get the most out of your content — record any class or course once and then offer it to multiple clients. It will significantly improve the RoI (return on investment) from your services compared to offline ones.

Pre-recorded classes available in an app (*image by [Igor]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Pre-recorded classes available in an app (image by Igor)

You could also make various step trackers, calorie counters, exercise lists, and so on.

In terms of reach, you can offer various pre-recorded courses to different categories of clients. They can be:

  • Experienced athletes — intensive workouts with various types of exercises on different muscle groups.
  • Newbies — base, not too challenging workouts (cardio, stretching, and full-body workouts).
  • Enterprises whose policy includes exercise breaks for workers, etc.
  • Pregnant women — a very calm exercise for muscle tone or yoga.
  • Elderly.
  • Families.

🏃‍♂️ Nike Training Club Case Study

NTC is a fitness app that provides more than 100 workouts.
It’s a great example of how to get the maximum out of pre-recorded classes. They offer various full-body workouts, workouts on a specific muscle group, and for different purposes (weight loss, endurance improvement, etc.).
They also differentiate workouts by intensity, duration, type (cardio, strength, flexibility, and so on), with/without equipment, and many others.

What’s great about such services is that it gives clients an impression of an in-person workout/class/course, thus, keeps you more motivated. Coaches often say uplifting phrases like “Keep going!”, “You’re doing great” in a record to make classes more vibrant which is surely an advantage.

It’s a good idea to improve and freshen the content from time to time to stay ahead of the competition and bring additional values to the customers.

Read Also

How to Make an Own Yoga app like Asana Rebel?

Work with more clients in a shorter time ⏰

If you’re an owner of an offline business in this industry, you know how time-consuming giving private or group classes and workouts can be. To properly help every class participant coaches have to spend quite a while talking to each one of them during and after it.

With an app, it’s not a problem to give classes to a much wider audience with less hassle via live streaming, for instance.

Live workouts in an app (*image by [Cleveroad]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Live workouts in an app (image by Cleveroad)

If it’s a private class it’s easier for a coach to hold classes one after one via an app:

  • No time needed for the way to and back.
  • More flexible timetable.
  • Ability to control workload.

Besides, spaces, where classes take place and equipment, need to be cleaned and disinfected after every single one of them.

However, when people take it online (meaning from their homes, yards, parks, and so on) it becomes of no importance, at least, not as often as after offline ones.

Consequently, it’ll significantly improve time-efficiency and allow you to hold more classes in less time.

Case Study: Peloton 🚲

Peloton is a perfect example of how to increase reach and sales via with help of a fitness app — last year the number of online subscriptions increased by 13%.

Peloton app (*image by [Calwin Bowen]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Peloton app (image by Calwin Bowen)

Quite an advantage of their app is the number of Tech Giants they’ve partnered with (Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, etc.). This gives them a powerful reach boost.

With their app, they make sure that every need that could possibly arise is covered — from on-demand and live classes to watching series while exercising.

When the COVID-pandemic is raging, thanks to their digital services Peloton only increases its revenue and stock size — on the 10th of September it hit $98.61 billion which is an absolute maximum ever reached.

It means that new people from all over the world keep joining and start using their services because they’re safe, well-organized, and able to meet the needs of most clients.

If you’d like to know more details about Peloton and similar apps, check out this article:

Read Also

How To Build a Workout Streaming App Like Peloton?

🔁 How Mobile Apps Influence Retention In the Fitness Industry?

Customer retention in the fitness industry is another important indicator that helps owners track the success of their businesses.

A mobile app can greatly help you with it and provide many ways to boost gym member retention. Let’s dive a little deeper and see what they are!

Transparency 📖

When customers trust you, they’re much more likely to stay with you. To increase the retention rate, fitness apps owners always try to create a trusting relationship with their users. One of the best ways to do it is to stay as transparent as possible and get people to know you as well as possible.

With an app, it's a piece of cake — the storage of information is roughly unlimited, and you can provide as much of it as you wish.

You can create a separate tab where you’ll provide information about your business, all licenses, your coaches and trainers, their work experience, maybe even their hobbies to make it more personal.

Coach page in a fitness app (*image by [Purrweb UI]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Coach page in a fitness app (image by Purrweb UI)

Moreover, you could show them that their personal information is safe and be compliant with different regulations like GDPR. If you want to know about it more you could check out our post about GDPR:

Read Also

How to Make Sure Your App or Website is HIPAA, PIPEDA & GDPR Compliant

Personal approach 🙌

If people can make your clients feel that something is made just for them, it’ll noticeably increase your gym member retention rate.

An app, particularly one focused on women's health, can offer personalized services. Learning how to build a women's health tracking app can significantly enhance this personal approach. It can be a push notification with a text saying “Hey, [Name]! Have a great day!” or anything positive, lovely, and showing that you care.

If you provide pre-recorded classes and workouts, consider adding some supportive phrases while recording to create some kind of interaction between a real or digital (AI-based) coach and users.

Generally, you build your app in a way where it calls everybody by their names, uses “You” instead of general phrases like “For all customers” — makes everything to make them feel treated personally and uniquely.

Recognition and reminders 🔔

Fitness apps retention strongly depends on whether you stay in people’s subconsciousness and background or not. That means, as more users see your brand and feel like it’s “integrated” in their minds they’re more likely to stay.

By running marketing campaigns for your brand in an app, constantly reaching out to your clients, you unintentionally become known and remembered.

Here are some ideas on how to increase fitness mobile apps retention and stay top of customers’ mind:

  • Send weekly updates. You can send an overall report on progress made which will remind a user of your app and give additional value.
  • Provide useful information (daily activity reports, workout recommendations, etc.). In this case, users could find it in your app instead of using other tools (Apple Health, Google Fit, fitness trackers, etc.) and think of you one more time.
  • Connect to Social Media. With Social Sign Up, users can share their progress and achievements which is indispensable for brand recognition.

And last but not least, the icon of your app will always be in front of users eyes.

It’s important since gen-z and millenials (that are the target audience for most fitness businesses) unlock their phones 79 and 63 times per day respectively. It’s not possible to create such brand recognition without an app — neither with a website nor with offline marketing.

Statistic: Average unlocks per day among smartphone users in the United States as of August 2018, by generation | Statista

Another big method of winning users’ attention and improving fitness industry retention rates is push-notifications.

We all know that sometimes the culture of hustle drags us so much that we can't think about anything but our career, grades, and being successful. In such a flow of goals and tasks we sometimes simply forget about caring for our well-being and physical state.

Push-notifications can help us get back to the “reality” and push us a little bit to get that workout done and stay engaged.

Push-notification (*image by [Seth Jenks]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Push-notification (image by Seth Jenks)

You can send push notifications for every occasion. For instance, if a user missed the training you can remind them about it with a friendly notification that you “Miss them” or do it in advance (30 minutes before the workout).

For you as a business owner, push-notifications are a great tool to increase sales by sending personalized offers to your members.

Bear in mind, you shouldn’t be too intrusive with this one — too much is never good.

Additional value 🎁

If clients get more than they’ve expected, they’re much less likely to leave — it’s a golden rule. Thus, fitness studio app or gym mobile app retention can be improved via implementing this rule.

An app in addition to your offline services is a perfect value to provide.

Let’s imagine a situation:

A customer walks in, starts his workout but doesn’t remember how you do jumping jacks correctly. Oh, what a pity, all trainers are busy with other clients right now. Why don’t we try to predict their behavior in such a situation:

With an app

  1. They can open an app, look up for a video instruction for jumping jacks, and proceed with the workout.

Without an app

  • They will either wait till someone can help them or just skip this part. Result: people get a feeling that customer service isn’t that well organized since there are not enough trainers.

Result: no misunderstanding and dissatisfaction.

Moreover, you can allow users to book sessions in advance from your app, conduct contactless payments (which is of high importance during the pandemic), provide a list of all classes you offer directly in an app, and so on.

Of course, there are other ways of providing additional value but an app makes this process easier and more beneficial in the long run.

Feedback 💌

Knowing what your customers want and constant improvement are the key to success.

With an app, it’s no more than a hiccup to collect feedback — you can conduct various surveys, ask to rate your app or/and services at one tap, leave a comment after a workout.

Besides, you could use the info from various feedback forms to improve your marketing strategy and work on some weak points of your business — improvement is growth.

Read Also

How to Make a Meditation App Like Headspace or Calm?

Case Study: Equinox 🏋️‍♂️

Equinox Group is an extremely wide-spread American luxury fitness company founded in 1991 (pretty impressive, right?). It owns separate lifestyle brands like Equinox, Equinox Hotels, Precision Run, Furthermore, PURE Yoga, Blink Fitness, and SoulCycle.

Either way, now we’d like to take a closer look at their app “Equinox”, which first came on the market in 2009, went through many changes, and includes every single step we’ve mentioned to increase their fitness club membership retention.

Equinox App (*shots from [Equinox]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Equinox App (shots from Equinox)

That means, it:

  • Provides a lot of information and trainers and the company itself — Transparency.
  • Greets customers by names, takes their personal goals into account, learns their habits — Personal approach.
  • Sends reminders about what’s coming up and provides gift cards — Reminders.
  • Allow to schedule and book sessions in the app — Additional value.
  • Provides feedback form for any suggestions regarding the company’s services and app features — Feedback.

Such membership retention strategies for the fitness club are really great and will work in most cases.

💥 Fitness Apps & Engagement

Apart from reach and retention, mobile fitness apps really help to improve the engagement of your customers — it’s a real catch for this purpose.

They can work as a complement during offline activities or increase motivation and engagement outside the gym.

Gamification 🎮

Emotions and feelings have a crucial role in our lives. It’s scientifically proven that challenges and games increase the level of motivation and concentration. It helps keep up with exercising or eating healthy and optimize this process.

Mobile apps work really well for this purpose. Thus, to increase gym mobile app engagement gamification is one of the first steps you should consider taking.

In the fitness industry, gamification is already wide-used and most apps have basic gamification features (achievements and challenges). Generally, gamification elements are:

  • Achievements

Different achievements and tasks give users more motivation to keep going and don’t stop. You should never underestimate the power of the beautiful “Tick” sound when finishing the task — it’s a strong boost of motivation.

For the fitness industry, they can be completely various:

  1. Do X action N times per week.
  2. Run 5 km at the fastest time.
  3. Keep sticking to the diet for N days.
  4. Reference points (Do 1,5,10,25,50, and so on workouts in general).
  5. Bring a friend.
  6. Complete a profile.
Fitness app achievements (*image by [Laura Reen]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Fitness app achievements (image by Laura Reen)

Of course, depending on the type of your app and services you provide achievements will vary.

  • Points.

This feature follows from the previous one. For completing achievements users can get in-app points or currency.

In-app points (*image by [Max ⚡️ Osichka]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

In-app points (image by Max ⚡️ Osichka)

It works as a double motivation to keep engaged and use your services.

It’s also a great idea to offer rewards for completing tasks (merch, little things like water bottles, free classes or check-lists, etc.).

Keep in mind that rewards should be proportionate to the task difficulty and benefit it brings to you as a business owner. Let’s say, there is more profit from a business point of view for referrals coming in and becoming a new client than there is if someone makes 2000 push-ups.

  • Leaderboards.

Competition is what keeps many people on track. In the fitness industry, it works very well.

The desire to be on top and do better than others can do magic — many people will keep going just to be the first.

Along with leaderboards, you could add challenges to your app (30-days yoga challenge, for instance). Trying to complete it with someone else can really help not to give up and make it to the end.

Fitness challenge (*image by [Ghulam Rasool 🚀]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Fitness challenge (image by Ghulam Rasool 🚀)

Besides, you could add a Social Sign Up along with leaderboards to share the results in Social Media, therefore, strengthen the motivation to work smart & hard.

Progress & Goals Tracking 🔍

In the fitness industry, there is an unwritten rule:

Without progress tracking there is no progress.

It’s of high importance that your customers can _see and feel their progress. You can help them with it by implementing various trackers or goal-setting features — it’ll increase your fitness app engagement.

Progress tracking in a fitness app (*image by [Ahmed Manna]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Progress tracking in a fitness app (image by Ahmed Manna)

These two things help them visualize what they can’t observe. Thus, it’ll keep them engaged and motivated.

You can use progress tracking as a great tool for making sure that clients are using your services — calculate the number of visits or workouts needed to reach the goal (for example, lose 5 pounds or burn 500 calories a day).

After it, you’ll be able to send the notifications in case they miss the training or don’t do enough for their goal.

Sure thing, it shouldn’t aggressive and intrusive — try something soft and friendly:

Hi, [Name]! Seems you’re having a busy week, huh?:) We just wanted to remind you that for [name the goal] you should do 2 more workouts this week. We miss you!

You can use their goals to improve your targeted marketing campaigns and make personalized offers to increase your revenue.

Device & App Synchronization 🔀

Nowadays many people have additional devices and applications apart from their phones — fitness bracelets, smartwatches, various activity and sleep trackers, smart scales, apps for running track, calorie count, etc.

Read Also

How to Build a Diet or Nutrition App?

To improve the user experience and engagement you could make it possible to synchronize one’s device with your app to immediately transfer any important data about activity or state of health.

It’s convenient since users won’t have to switch between apps to track steps in one app and a heart rate in another.

Activity tracking in a fitness app (*image by [Sajon]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md}*)

Activity tracking in a fitness app (image by Sajon)

You could also use this data for marketing and personalization purposes — if a user wants to lose some weight but doesn’t move enough (which is easy to track if an app is connected to a fitness tracker, for instance) you could make them a corresponding offer. Take a look:

Hey, [Name]! It seems you haven’t been moving enough for your goal (Then you provide statistics). To catch up on this movement shortage you could sign up for our Sunday Zumba Classes. The first class is free — here’s your coupon. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

To access users’ health or fitness data provided by different services such as Google Fit, Apple Health, etc., or other devices, you’ll have to integrate their public API. If you want to know more about this technical part you can check out this article:

Read Also

How to Enable Google Fit, Apple’s HealthKit, and Other Services to Share Data with Your App

Customization 📱

Customization is an extremely strong advantage of mobile fitness app development services — most clients stay really engaged when they feel that something is done to meet their needs and desires.

In the first place, it’s about providing customized features for workouts and nutrition. Users should be able to choose the duration of a workout, add exercises to the routine, choose what muscle groups to primarily work on, etc.

🤸‍♂️ Sworkit Case Study

It’s a “personal trainer” app for workouts, stretching, and yoga.
They’re a great example of what customization in a fitness app can look like. They offer customization in terms of any moves you want to add, adding a couple of minutes to your cardio workout, and so on.
You can take a closer look in this video.

However, customization isn’t only about working out. It can be a personal avatar, a profile theme, and color, a font, where you want your progress bar to be, and what sound to use for notifications.

This perk of having an app is just the key to keep users engaged — nothing helps with it more than a feeling of being unique and getting a personal approach.

Case Study: 24GO by 24 Hour Fitness 🕕

24 Hour Fitness is a chain of gyms with more than 430 locations. Despite their offline success, they’ve created a 24GO app to supplement training and improve the user experience which turned out to be a big success.

In the app, they combine all engagement features of a mobile app, thus, take the maximum out of it.

They provide:

  • Goal setting.
  • Custom workouts.
  • Audio & Video Coached and Live workouts.
  • Personalization (for schedule, intensity, etc.).
  • Pairing with other devices and applications.
  • Progress tracking.
  • Achievements and other gamification features.

We’re sure that a big part of their success is thanks to their well-developed app which improves engagement and user-experience online as well as offline.

💡 Takeaways

The fitness app is a great instrument to increase your business’ reach, retention, and engagement. Now you fully understand what steps you should take to get the most out of it.

Why don’t we briefly summarize them:

  1. To improve reach you can offer pre-recorded or accompanying instruction classes and workouts & be able to provide your services in any situation via an app.
  2. To improve retention you can use your app as an information base. You should also try and provide a personal approach, make your clients know you via reminders, provide additional value through an app, and accept feedback along with suggestions.
  3. To improve engagement via an app you can implement various gamification features, boost motivation with help of goal tracking, and keep your clients engaged by offering customization elements.

If you have any more questions or want to start getting benefits from developing your fitness app, feel free to drop us a line. We’ll see how we can make your ideas real!

Build your Fitness App!

Read also

How can we help you?

Our clients say

Stormotion client Alexander Wolff, CPO from [object Object]

When I was working with Stormotion, I forgot they were an external agency. They put such effort into my product it might as well have been their own. I’ve never worked with such a client-focused company before.

Alexander Wolff, CPO