How to Make a Fitness App like Fitbit, or Create an App for a Gym or Health Club like 24GO
The fitness industry has been on the rise during the last years — so many companies have been investing in mobile app development. And the situation doesn’t seem to change!
Going to a gym, jogging, or doing yoga for millions of people turned from a part-time hobby into a lifestyle. Mobile technologies went through similar stages: from unusual devices for tech geeks to a thing we can hardly imagine our life without.
Both Startups and Fitness Businesses (owners of gyms, yoga studios, and health clubs) actively started to build fitness apps during the last few years. According to Reports and Data, it encouraged the rapid growth of the global fitness app market:
As we can see, the global Fitness App market is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of 23.5%. It means that the market will grow from $2.92 billion in 2019 ➡️ to $14.64 billion in 2027.
For traditional offline gyms, 2019-2020 coronavirus lockdowns became a real challenge. However, for fitness mobile apps it turned out to be an opportunity. As billions of people were trapped in their homes, mobile workout applications became for many a convenient tool to keep the body in shape and be full of energy. Google Trends proves that as well!
Pay attention to leaps in Google searches for "fitness apps" worldwide first in December 2019 and then starting from March 2020
So if you want to develop a fitness app there is no better time to act!
Yet, what exactly do we mean by a “fitness app”? We decided to split our step-by-step guide into 2 parts:
- In the first part, we’ll explain how owners can develop a fitness app for a gym, a yoga studio, and a health club to engage and retain their online and offline customers.
- The second part is dedicated to app development for Startups and Companies that would like to build an app like Fitbit.
🏋️♂️ How to Create a Fitness Application for Gym, Yoga Studio or Health Club
As a fitness business owner, you likely know all the benefits of having your own mobile application.
So let’s see what features make up a good fitness scheduling application!
Feature Ideas for a Fitness Studio App
Making up the right set of features for your app is crucial. It not only defines what services will be available to your customers but also directly affects the gym app development costs.
We’ve prepared a list of the key features that you may consider for your application. Take a look!
# 1: Sign Up 🔐
The feature is needed to identify users as well as link and store their personal data. Moreover, if you already have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, it’ll be possible to transfer all user’s personal data into the app as it’s linked to his mobile number.
From the fitness perspective, the feature has another important aim — to get you to know your client better. Gym apps usually ask for the following info:
- Workout frequency
- Fitness goal (lose weight, gain muscle, build endurance)
- Body measurements (height, weight, body fat %)
- Available equipment at a gym or at home for training (core ball, jump rope, EZ bar, rowing machine)
This will help you to make personalized offers that will perfectly match the user’s portrait.
Also, there are 2 ways to implement the feature:
- Make your app open to everyone. Thus, users will be able to sign up using their mobile number and password.
- Members-only. In some gym apps, users should log in using their Club account (personal account number).
It’s up for you to decide which way to follow. Yet, keep in mind that the first approach will make it possible to sign up for users that aren’t your customers now, making it possible to convert them in the future.
# 2: Scheduling 🗓
One of the features that comes to mind in the first place is scheduling. It enables your customers to easily book classes, group and personal training.
Online booking is much more convenient for your customers than phone calls or in-person booking at the front desk in your studio or gym:
- Talking is stressful. Mobile apps are not. Thus, your customers can take their time to carefully study all the open courses and their availability.
- Fast & simple. In a mobile app, users can book training with a few taps. It means they can do it while waiting in line in a supermarket or during breakfast — and simpler the booking process is, the more people will use it!
Yet, as you develop an application for a fitness studio, it’s essential to ensure a smooth user experience (UX). If break it down into key parts, these will be — clean design, fast performance and comprehensive structure.
In particular, the Scheduling feature should provide users with the following info and capabilities regarding classes:
- Class description
- Available times
When it comes to personal training, you should put more emphasis on coaches and specify the following info:
- Position/Qualification (like a fitness coach, nutritionist, etc.)
- Training focus (like bodybuilding, injury recovery, muscle gain, weight loss and others)
- Education, Certifications & Experience
- Location of the gym/studio where the coach works
- Availability through the week (day & time)
If your app enables direct communication with coaches, you may also add contact details — phone number and a button for an in-app chat.
We also recommend implementing integration with mobile iOS, Android and Google calendars to automatically save all the new bookings.
Finally, extra feature to make scheduling even more convenient is Search. It will allow users to find classes by instructor, location, date & time, etc.
# 3: Online Workouts 🤸♂️
The coronavirus pandemic pushed all types of businesses to go digital. Before 2020, owners mainly focused on in-gym tracking and management features when developing a mobile app for a fitness studio. These days functionality for online workouts is often essential as well.
There are a few features that you can implement to provide value for your customers right in the app:
- Online pre-recorded workouts 🎥
You may think of this as Netflix for the fitness industry — an in-app library of video workouts. Make sure you’ve implemented Searching functionality so users can easily filter workouts by duration, intensity, needed equipment, coach, etc.
- Live streaming classes 📹
This feature became especially popular during the lockdown. One way to do so is by creating a built-in streaming platform right in the app. That’s how Peloton works. Alternatively, you may choose an easier approach: for example, to make a calendar or a list of live classes with description and link to Zoom where it will take place.
- List of exercises 📋
This is the easiest way to provide your users with online workout plans. Actually, the feature works quite similar to pre-recorded video workouts but the videos are replaced with text lists of exercises and their descriptions.
- Audio Coaching 🎧
Finally, you may focus on audio-experiences for your customers. Such a feature is especially popular in Nike Run Club where users can pick guided runs. Yet, it’s also possible to implement similar audio workouts for all types of training.
You may also combine different features as you develop gym scheduling software to deliver the max value to your customers.
# 4: Check-In ✅
The touch-free Check-In feature also became highly relevant in post-COVID times. It allows reducing unnecessary person-to-person interactions and makes the whole check-in process smoother and more user-friendly in general.
From the tech perspective, the feature looks as follows:
- The user opens a gym studio app when approaching a gym.
- He goes to the Check-In Screen.
- There he confirms check-in to a specific club which is automatically defined using his geolocation or manually selected from the list.
- This action returns a screen with his profile picture, a checkmark, and a timestamp that he can show from the distance at the front desk of your fitness studio.
# 5: Gym Location & Details 🗺
The feature will be useful to navigate customers between your fitness clubs and studios. We recommend implementing this feature as an in-app map together with the list of locations of your clubs.
Users should also have a possibility to check Club Details like:
- Contact Details
- Working Hours
- Available Coaches
- Available Classes
- Club Amenities
Such info will help your users discover nearby locations of your clubs as well as simplify the way they can interact with them.
You may also make this screen even more helpful by introducing a possibility to buy a membership, reserve a class or book personal training with a coach.
# 6: Fitness Assessment & Tracking 🥇
Mobile apps for gyms and health studios сan easily automate such routine tasks as different kinds of fitness assessment: body composition, strength, flexibility, cardio, and others.
The app will guide users through a series of tests to indicate their body’s metabolic rate and overall physical capabilities. Later on, this data can be used by your coaches during training. Alternatively, you may also use this info to autosuggest ready-made online workouts to users and even adjust them a bit to perfectly match the user’s physical condition.
Another side of this feature is tracking. It allows users to fill info on their classes and training: what exercises they did, what weights they used, how many calories they burnt, how they felt in general after the training.
The purpose of this data is the same: to keep track of results, see the user’s progress and adjust new workouts and exercises to the current physical level of the customer.
# 7: Loyalty Features 👍
Gyms, swimming pools, health clubs, and other similar businesses are highly dependant on their regular customers. Actually, the whole idea of fitness is built around the principle of repetition: you should try to dedicate at least a few hours a week to some sport activity every month, every year.
Mobile apps help to build loyalty within customers towards your business in a few ways:
|💡 Concept||📖 Description||🔎 Example|
|Personalization||Users should feel that the app is offering them content that perfectly matches their needs and interests. In this case, they’ll be fueled by the right sets of workouts and promotions, pushing them towards better results.||Personalized push notifications & promotions. Workouts that tailored to match the user’s physical portrait.|
|Extra Value||Modern users often expect to get something extra in return for their loyalty. It will encourage them to stay loyal as they’ll get even more benefits eventually.||Free extra class for every 2 months of membership. Every 5th visit to the gym can be converted to a visit to the swimming pool.|
|Gamification||People like games and challenges. Adding a social element or an element of competitiveness may encourage them to more actively interact with the app or your offline facilities.||Leaderboards by gyms. Competitions with friends.|
# 8: Chat 💬
Having direct chat with coaches became especially relevant during the Coronavirus-times. For customers, it helped not to lose contact with coaches during home workouts. For gym owners, it created an extra value they could offer to their clients while being on the lockdown.
The way you implement this feature depends on your goals. For example, it may be a simple text chat to ask a few questions or get some support. Or you may turn it into an efficient tool for 1-to-1 online training by introducing features like video calling or sharing of recorded video files.
# 9: Push Notifications 🔔
Push notifications are great for increasing retention and engagement rates. This is a simple and proven way to interact with customers even when they aren’t using the app.
A few ideas on how you can use push notifications in your fitness app for the gym:
- Promote new features, services, coaches, sales, etc.
- Remind to workout if the user hasn’t done it in a while.
- Send encouraging messages to motivate the user to workout or use the app.
- Remind them of upcoming scheduled online and offline classes.
# 10: Blog ✍️
Finally, you may create a gym scheduling app and run an in-app blog. For example, with tips on healthy eating, workout techniques, and best home and gym exercises.
This can hardly be an essential feature. However, it’s quite a good way to create some extra value and provide an additional reason for people to check your application more often.
You’re probably interested in checking out a good example of a gym scheduling app, aren’t you? We’ve got one!
🤳 Gym Scheduling Software Example: 24GO App
24 Hour Fitness is one of the biggest fitness center chains in the U.S. They’ve also created a fitness scheduling app that covers all the mentioned above features and even a bit more. Here’s its official page.
The app is free to download so you may сheck its design and features on your own. But here are a few noticeable things that we especially like about it:
- Omnichannel presence. Live and on-demand workouts can be streamed on different platforms — mobile, laptop, and even smart TV. This is a great feature to keep users engaged with home workouts.
- Deep personalization. The 24GO app tailors its multi-week fitness plans according to your goals and fitness assessment. Moreover, users can choose between different approaches — video workouts, audio coaching, or text lists of exercises — picking the one that fits them the most.
- The app covers the whole customer’s journey. Their application actually helps users at every step: from finding a gym, booking a class and checking-in to post-workout support from the coach via the in-app chat.
If you’d like to focus on solely online fitness experience for your users, we prepared the next part of the article for you.
Yet, what exactly do we mean by a “fitness app”? It’s a fair question because we in Stormotion can distinguish at least 3 main kinds of such apps. What are they? Let’s try to find out.
💪 Activity, Nutrition & Workouts - 3 Whales of Mobile Sports Industry
There are thousands of fitness applications in both Google and Apple app stores. Yet, it wouldn’t make much sense if they all were totally similar. Therefore, according to the kind of problem they’re helping to solve, we can roughly pick out 3 types of such apps:
- Activity tracking apps.
- Nutrition & diet apps.
- Workout and exercise apps.
So, before moving to development itself, let’s briefly review each category.
Activity tracking apps
I guess, the most common type of sports apps is activity tracking ones. They are often used even by those who don’t visit a gym or stick to a diet. The main idea behind such applications is to provide users with information about their activity throughout the day. This may include distance walked, steps made, calories burned and so on.
Some developers go even further and implement tools for sleep analysis. It allows to obtain information about the quality and the amount of sleep, calculate an optimal time for going to bed, possible sleep disruptors.
However, nowadays developers usually build a fitness app that can connect to wearables and provide even more data - like the heartbeat rate. It may seem obvious to you now, but back in the early 2010s fitness apps mostly relied on device’s hardware. Thus, for example, they used GPS-technologies to count traveled distance and burned calories.
Or, speaking from my own experience, I also used a sleep analysis app for the first time about 6 years ago. Back then it monitored the sounds (for example, whether I snore or not) and movements (my smartphone was lying next to me so it could track whether I toss and turn at night) during my sleep. At least, I was told so. Yet, you can imagine how accurate the results of such an analysis were.
Luckily for all of us, modern tracking apps provide us with a completely different level of accuracy of this information.
Nutrition & diet apps
Every gym coach can tell you for sure that the right and healthy nutrition is a necessary requirement if you want to stay fit and strong. That’s why some people prefer to download apps that allow tracking:
- their daily food habits;
- a number of calories burned and taken throughout the day;
- the water balance of the body;
- weight changes.
Additionally, such apps often have extra features except tracking. For example, diet & fitness mobile application development may include creating grocery lists, a barcode scanner, food logging and others.
However, it’s not the only use for nutrition apps. For example, one of our clients is Foodnav (a startup from Hamburg) whose goal is to help people with food intolerances, for example, the lactose intolerance. Therefore, it allows users to scan barcodes of goods in supermarkets and check whether they are suitable for them. This is an excellent example of using the application to improve the quality of everyday life.
Workout and exercise apps
This type is the first that comes to mind when I say “fitness apps”. As you may guess from the name, these mobile applications are mainly used during sessions in a gym. It’s, actually, a personal coach right in your pocket!
With its’ help you’re able to create your own calendar of workout sessions, track the number and difficulty of exercises and learn how to perform them in a correct way.
Yet, if you want to make a fitness app like Fitbit you don’t have to choose between these 3 types. Why? The answer is simple: because the Fitbit app unites all of them. Therefore, let’s review top features that will help you to build not just a sports app but a true digital fitness fellow!
📱 Top Features For Your Application
While making the research and preparing the first draft of this article, we decided to divide all the features into 5 big categories or, as we called them, blocks. These are:
- Basic Block: unites all the features that are common for any type of sports app.
- Tracking Block: for monitoring your daily physiological parameters and activeness.
- Nutrition Block: helps your users to take care of their diet (in a broad sense).
- Workout Block: a digital pocket coach to assist during gym sessions.
- Social/Entertainment Block: includes tools for increasing engagement and staying in touch with family and friends.
From our experience we can tell you that it’s not necessary to implement each block in your future app - it’s enough to combine basic one with any other (except, maybe, the entertainment block).
Moreover, we in Stormotion team would recommend you to choose one specific niche and feature that you can do better than others and develop it. That’s going to be far more effective than building a huge monster app.
But for simplicity we’re going to review each block separately (actually, as a standalone application). So let’s learn what features each category includes!
⚙️ Basic Block: The Footing of Your Application
The following features are must-haves for all kinds of sports apps. Actually, it’s difficult to image an app similar to Fitbit without any of them, so make sure that they’re included in your scope.
Healthcare and sports apps are built around the idea of personalization. It’s pretty obvious since they count your burned and gained calories, measure the water balance of your body, analyze your sleep and help to create a perfect workout exactly… right, for you. And that’s why you can’t go on without user profiles.
So, what should you know about this element of your future app?
- It’s used to bind different kinds of data to the exact user. Further, it can be accessed from any other device after logging in.
- You should implement the social login feature. It allows creating a profile by extracting needed information (name, photo, date of birth) from social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
- Take care of the design. Profiles should be nice-looking but not spattered with different buttons and other elements.
If you’re going to create a fitness application, you should understand that one of its main aims is not just providing people with tracking tools or video guides. It’s not less important to encourage your users to exercise on a regular basis. And it will be more difficult for them to abandon your app if they can set particular goals and monitor the progress.
You may be already tired to read about push notifications since we mention them in almost every article. Yet, as always, don’t underestimate their importance :)
They’ll remind users about their upcoming training, planned food or water intakes, the best time to go to bed and other activities. As a result, it will increase engagement and encourage to use your app more often.
Integration with wearables
Wearable devices like smart watches, sports bracelets and clip-ons haven’t become as popular as some experts guessed. Yet, they’ve found their own audience. And it’s mainly fitness geeks!
Usually, wearable technologies just track physiological parameters (like the pulse or estimated calories burn) or other data (like distance walked or time of sleep) and some even don’t have screens where you can check it.
With an app, it’s possible not only to get all this information in an interactive and nice-looking way but also make data-driven decisions: for example, find out how much more you need to walk to lose the necessary amount of calories or how to improve the effectiveness of your training.
Therefore, integration with wearables is necessary if you want to make a fitness app like Fitbit.
👁️ Tracking Block: Big Fitness Brother is Watching You
Why are apps similar to Fitbit so popular? Because they have a purpose for every part of the day. They help to track and sort out different parameters of your body. Thus, you’re able to make your gym sessions even more productive, your diet even more effective and your lifestyle even more healthy!
The implementation of this whole block significantly depends on the ability to connect to wearable devices.
Tracking apps are often downloaded by people who are not into sports very much. So if you make a fitness app of this kind, your possible target audience is much wider than athletes and frequenters of gyms.
Here are 3 main groups of parameters that you can track:
- Daily activity: traveled distance, number of steps and active minutes.
- Physiological parameters during workouts: heartbeat rate during different stages of workout, total training time.
- Sleep quality: duration, changes between sleep stages, the frequency of awakenings etc.
To implement these tracking tools, you have to integrate your app with wearable devices. Read on, cause closer to the end of the article our Stormotion developers will share a few tech tips with you.
If you collect some personal data, make sure you comply with all the necessary regulations.
🥝 Nutrition Block: Your “Don’t-Eat-After-6-PM” Overseer
In our fast-paced world people often don’t have enough time or will to stick to diets or develop healthy eating habits. It’s always easier to buy some fast food or eat irregularly. Yet, if you create a fitness application with the following features, it will definitely encourage users to review their nutrition.
It’s not a secret that people mostly stick to diets in order to change their weight in one or another way: whether to get rid of extra kilos or, on the contrary, gain some muscle mass. Yet, it would be difficult to monitor the progress only by watching in the mirror or comparing photos.
This means that if you want to make a fitness app with the nutrition block, a separate weight tracker screen is a necessary feature. There users should be able to manually log their numbers, monitor the weekly/monthly/overall progress and see how close they are to their goal.
For a better UX, you can implement the dynamics of weight change as a nice-looking graphic.
A few know that it’s not enough just to eat properly - it’s also important to drink properly. Yet, people forget to do it regularly so that’s a problem that your app can solve.
Developing such a feature isn’t a rocket science so it won’t cost you much. Actually, all you need is a screen where people can enter their water intakes, get reminders and check if they’re properly hydrated.
UI design idea: an animated glass or a bottle that is filled with water as the user logs more intakes is a nice way to make a fitness app more interactive and catchy.
We have hundreds of different foodstuffs in our supermarkets so it’s just impossible to remember how useful or not they are. And it’s even more difficult to keep the balance of carbohydrates, protein, sugar, and fat in this way.
So as your users don’t have to read all the tags and calculate the “usefulness” of food on their own, you can implement a barcode scanner in your app.
For this purpose it’s enough to allow your application using the camera of a smartphone to scan barcodes and integrate a database of goods to provide users with info about calories and nutrients. Yet, it’s often the main difficulty - to find a complete barcode database of products and their nutrients. However, we’ll provide you with a few a bit later 🙂
Except for hydration measurement, a cool sports app should also let users monitor their food intakes. Thus, they will be able to count how much calories they take during a day and how their nutrition can be improved.
Meal shortcuts, a quick calorie estimator and barcode scanner will help you achieve the best UX on this screen.
🏋️ Workout Block: Digital Arnold Schwarzenegger in Your Pocket
Finally, let’s not forget about people who consider fitness as part of their lifestyle. They won’t be satisfied with just distance and sleep tracking tools, so you should offer them some unique value. What can it be? Well, the features and tools that will make their training even more effective and comfortable.
Running is one of the most popular sports activities as it doesn’t require much time, gym membership or too much effort but still can greatly improve your physical condition. Your aim here is to build a fitness app that will enhance the running experience of your audience.
Therefore, you should offer your users real-time accesses and a possibility to record the history of every run through the integration with the tracking features (this includes a map/route, total distance and time, calories burned, pace per minute, changes in heart rate).
A pretty simple feature that allows keeping the record of workouts/runs. Thus, users can look back at their previous accomplishments, analyze them and discover even better ways to achieve goals.
Moreover, it’s possible to send push notifications and remind users to workout according to the pre-arranged calendar.
Last but not least. This feature is necessary to develop a fitness app that will be popular among gym visitors who don’t want to spend a lot of money on personal coach and training. Yet, it’s also difficult for them to draw up own training program and be sure that they perform all the exercises in a right way. And that’s when this feature comes in handy!
So, a cool digital coach includes 2 following parts:
- Firstly, users should be able to record their own workouts in a logbook, compose their own training plans and monitor exercise stats so as to improve their performance.
- Secondly, you should also implement the list of exercises with video or VR-guides. Therefore your users will be able to draw up their own training plans by picking up appropriate exercises and perform everything correctly.
🤳 Social & Entertainment Block: Make Your Application More Lively
Finally, when create a fitness app don’t forget to implement several features that can increase user engagement. Let’s quickly review them!
Social networks integration
Social media is the trend that as powerful as fitness. People are literally spending hours scrolling feeds, sharing photos, retweeting and chatting with friends. So use it to your advantage!
First and foremost, implement the social login feature that we’ve already mentioned when we talked about user profiles. Additionally, consider social networks as a good marketing platform: allow users sharing their achievements and workout plans, inviting friends to join and train together and so on. This will work as word-of-mouth marketing and bring you more customers.
People love to show off their achievements, and it can become a cool marketing channel for your app.
However, you’re not only interested in gaining new users. Keeping the old ones engaged with your app should be a prior task for you, too. And that’s where the following tools can help you:
- Badges. These are rewards (icons) that users can get for accomplishing key achievements. Costs almost nothing for you but gives your sports fans the feeling of passing some milestones.
- Levels. You can also encourage users by giving them points for completing exercises, every 10 kilometers of jogging or other accomplishments. After collecting some amount of points, they will be leveled up and face another challenge.
- Scoreboards. Simple but proven way to keep users engaged. Just make them compete with their friends and colleagues!
So, it seems that we have described all of the 5 main blocks that make up the perfect sports app similar to Fitbit. Now let’s move on to the cost to develop a fitness app like the one described above.
💰 Fitbit-like App Development Costs
As you may know, we usually provide our readers with a rough estimation of app’s main features. So, in this article we decided to calculate the approximate Fitbit app development cost according to the 5 main parts of such an application. So here’s what Stormotion developers came up with:
Note: we took an average rate of $45/hour but it depends on many different factors so don't think of it as the final price.
As we previously mentioned, it’s not necessary to implement all the blocks in one app. So the minimum cost to develop a fitness app starts from $18,300 (this includes basic block + any other).
But if you want to create a complex product that will cover interests and solve problems of every potential user, we advise developing an app with all 5 blocks. In this case, development costs will start from $35,500.
🖥️ Tech Tips
Previously we promised to share with you a few tech tips that will help you reduce costs and create a fitness application of perfect quality. Here they are:
- You don’t have to directly connect your mobile app to hardware sensors of smartphones to get user’s health data. Use SDK’s and API’s of Google Fit (for Android) and Apple’s HealthKit (for iOS) to get all the basic tracking stats (like distance traveled, steps taken, burned calories and so on).
- To implement integration with wearables use API’s and SDK’s of Fitbit, Misfit, Jawbone UP, Garmin, Nike+ or others (based on the manufacturer you choose).
- Tomtom can be your helper when you decide to build the running feature. It’ll provide you with real-time maps and navigation services that will significantly improve the UX.
- HealthGraph API is used to track user’s activities and health measurements over time (sleep, nutrition, weight, completed strength training and other activities).
- For implementing the barcode scanner feature, you may access Open Food Facts database, Nutritionix API or MyNetDiary food catalog.
💸 Available Monetization Models
When you build a fitness app, you're actually creating a bussiness. And every business should bring revenue. So the most common monetization models are:
- Paid app - users pay to download the app (with all content unlocked and no ads).
- In-app purchases - users make one-time payments to get the access to specific fetures, workout plans and so on.
- Freemium - your app provides some basic functionality for free but requers from users a weekly/monthly/yearly paid subscription to unlock all services.
- Ads - but be careful, too many of them can ruin your UX.
- eCommerce - you can also use your app to sell fitness products and branded goods (like fitness gear, sportswear and so on).
- Sponsored content - it's also possible to get money by distributing content of local fitness services providers (gyms, sports supplement stores etc.).
To sum up, the sports industry is on the rise now so you have big chances to get your piece of the pie. Despite app development can be a challenging task, it becomes significantly easier with the help of a good app development partner.
The cost to create a fitness app range from $11,000 for a pretty simple app (a basic block + one another) to $23,000 and more for an app with a wider choice of features.
We recommend picking up a specific niche and build an MVP for your startup. Choosing MVP development will allow you to save money and test the idea without spending too many efforts and resources. Also, feel free to contact us and we’ll try to make even your trickiest fitness idea a reality!