The fitness industry is on the rise across the world as more people are investing in their health, especially following the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, according to a recent Zippia study, the United States’ fitness industry was valued at $33.25 billion in 2021, with 39% of Americans currently holding gym memberships.
The study found that revenue for fitness centers in the U.S. rose steadily from 2011 to 2019, but dropped in 2020 due to gym closures and social distancing measures brought on by the pandemic. However, revenue continued to surge again in 2021, and is expected to reach $434.74 billion by the end of 2028.
These numbers show that the health and fitness industry is gaining more and more traction, particularly in the United States, which has the highest gym center revenue in the world. Because of this increased focus on health, many companies are thinking outside the box in terms of fitness and launching apps that provide a virtual experience that can be attained anywhere and any time.
In this article, we’ll discuss the growth of fitness apps, its popular features and technical considerations, and the proper steps to take when building your own fitness app. We’ll also explore some of the biggest names in the fitness app industry and the various features they’ve implemented to successfully set themselves apart from the growing competition. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Fitness App?
A fitness app is a mobile device application that can be downloaded and used to promote a healthy lifestyle. There are many types that focus on different aspects of health and fitness, including workouts, sports activities, meal planning and lifestyle, but the ultimate goal remains the same: to improve overall health and collect data about user’s activities.
Meal planning fitness apps, for example, allow users to log meals, count calories and plan diets, while workout apps track footsteps, monitor heart rate and provide custom routine exercises. Many fitness apps also let users set weight goals and give personalized advice and health tips.
Get to Know the Fitness App Market
Before building your own fitness app, it’s worth exploring the market in which you’ll be operating. This will help you better understand customer expectations as well as your competitors.
- Big Market Players: Fitness app industry leaders include MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, Google Fit, and Nike Training Club. Each app offers a unique set of features aimed at helping their users achieve their fitness goals.
- Market Trends: By 2030, the fitness app market is expected to reach a worth of $4.8 billion. It’s likely that wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, will continue to grow in popularity throughout the years.
- Wearable Devices: The wearable device industry is even larger than the fitness app market, with a worth of $44.8 billion in 2022.
- Gamification and Social Engagement: Gamification is a common element in fitness platforms, helping to keep users interested and engaged in the apps. Many fitness apps, for example, will award users for achieving their goals, encouraging them to progress further.
- Personalized User Experience: 88% of marketing experts report that in-app personalization results in an increase of revenue. This is because app personalization creates a unique experience that keeps users coming back.
- Virtual Fitness Classes: Since the COVID-19 lockdowns, virtual fitness classes have come to be expected on fitness apps. They offer users a convenient way to be taught by a professional fitness instructor from the comfort of their home.
Top 3 Fitness Apps
Due to an increase in consumer demand for continuous health assessment, more and more companies are dipping their toes in the fitness app market, including Under Armour and Google.
MyFitnessPal is a mobile app and website that focuses on tracking diet and exercise goals through the use of gamification elements.
With 14 million foods in the app’s database, users can scan barcodes on food packages to easily track calories of their meals and snacks. The app also keeps a log of any physical activity, and allows users to link their MyFitnessPal account with other apps to consolidate all their personal data on one platform.
In addition to tracking meals and exercise, MyFitnessPal users have access to healthy recipe ideas and articles related to health, food and fitness. While the app is free to download, a premium subscription that offers a more personalized experience is available for $19.99 per month or $79.99 per year.
Owned by Google, Fitbit is a free mobile app that tracks sleep, stress, heart rate and physical activity with wireless-enabled technology like smartwatches.
The app also offers a variety of Fitbit Challenges that are aimed at keeping users inspired and motivated to reach their health goals. Users can even visit virtual trails and landmarks, collecting “treasures” along the way to ensure their fitness journey is all the more exciting.
For personalized recommendations for video workouts, Fitbit users can upgrade to the premium subscription for $9.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual membership.
An endeavour of the sports equipment company Under Armour, MapMyRun is a free running app that tracks distance, pace and the number of calories burned.
Although it does focus on running, users can log other workouts like cycling and walking, set training plans and discover new fitness routines. Users can also participate in community challenges and map, record and share their exercise routes with the MapMyRun user base.
A MVP subscription is available for $5.99 per month or $29.99 per year that offers custom workouts and fitness plans, as well as a live tracking option in which family members can follow user’s running routes in real time.
Features of a Good Fitness App
While some features may be dependent on the fitness app’s main focus, there are some core features that should always be included to ensure the platform is appealing to users.
Progress Tracking and Analytics
Perhaps the most important feature of a fitness app is the ability to track health stats such as the number of steps taken in a day and the total number of miles run. This allows users to easily monitor their own personal metrics and also keeps them engaged in the app, as they will likely check up often on their progress.
Food logs are another popular feature included on many fitness apps. With this feature, users can keep track of their total caloric intake based on what they’ve consumed and what they’ve burned through physical activity.
Fitness app users should also be able to set their own personal weight and exercise goals and track their progress along the way. This is most easily accomplished by allowing users to set up a profile to input data like weight and average activity level and implementing a notification system that reminds users to log updated stats on a weekly or monthly basis.
Once goals have been met, many fitness apps will then provide badges or other virtual incentives to keep users motivated.
Bluetooth Device Integration
Another popular feature of fitness apps is the capacity to integrate with Bluetooth and other smart devices like watches for constant activity tracking. This feature helps to promote accuracy, as data across all devices are being pulled into one streamlined platform.
Bluetooth integration also boosts user experience by enabling better insight into their overall health and progress.
User profiles allow users a place to store their fitness information, such as their personal goals, height, and weight. In some instances, like on the Fitbit App, this information can be shared with a community of users so they can work together to better achieve their goals. User profile information can also be used by the app itself for personalization purposes.
For example, some fitness apps may adjust the dietary requirements they display and recommend exercises based on the user’s height and weight. As weight is always changing, having a profile in which users can log personal updates helps to improve the app’s overall user experience.
Social features can motivate users to achieve their fitness objectives by enabling them to hold themselves publicly accountable for their goals. These features also provide users with the opportunity to encourage one another and celebrate wins together.
Staying on top of fitness goals is no easy task, but gamification elements make it a little less painful. Gamification does what it says on the tin–it turns fitness into a game, often with scores and rewards. The Fitbit app, for example, offers users badges as they hit certain targets, keeping them engaged with the platform and inspired to reach their goals.
Reminders and Notifications
When building new fitness habits, it’s common for daily tasks to slip the user’s mind. Push notifications, however, can help keep users aware of their daily goals and also encourage them to open the fitness app more often. This benefits both the app creator and the user.
When developing your own fitness app, you’ll need to implement much more than some basic popular features. You’ll also need to consider technical tools like Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and health care mobility hardware that are necessary for launching an app successfully. It’s also important to remember that the app should be scalable to ensure its capacity can increase as it gains new users over time.
Fortunately, developers can draw from a variety of tools when building their fitness app. HealthGraph, for example, can be used to store data on the cloud and as a means of interacting with other app users.
MisFit is another tool that can be beneficial to your app, as it allows you to track sleep and other activities that can be compiled into weekly summaries. For food logs, FoodSpex provides detailed nutritional information like calories and fat content. Developers can also utilize the Exist API to track a variety of metrics, including weight, exercise and mood.
In addition to APIs, fitness app developers should implement specific health care mobility hardware. Bioimpedance sensors can detect various physiological data like respiration and heart rate, while accelerometers can be used to track activity and motion, such as speed, distance and calories burned. Skin response sensors are another popular tool to measure any changes in body temperature, which can be used to help estimate users’ stress levels.
Like any new platform, it’s essential that your fitness app has the ability to develop over time in order to better handle increasing user demand. Scalability also offers a way for you to collect consumer data and preferences so that you can make necessary improvements as your user base grows.
So, by making your app scalable, you will ensure that your app can easily adapt to changing requirements and ultimately remain sustainable in the competitive fitness app market.
Building an MVP
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is another good practice when launching a fitness app. The aim is to first test your business concept by offering an initial set of features that can be elaborated on down the road. This will help confirm that your app is poised for success by gauging what your audience wants in terms of features and services.
In addition to verifying market demand, MVPs will help in developing a monetization strategy and assessing usability, as the process relies on testing an app’s functions and collecting user feedback. Because the whole point is to start small and build bigger – and better – over time, an MVP will shed valuable light on whether the app is usable and appealing to its users.
So, in terms of a fitness app, it’s essential to offer basic features like a personalized profile, workout database, health statistics and third-party capabilities when first launching the platform. These features can then be built up to include options like live workout selections and on-demand fitness coaching.
Barcode scanning services, social media integration and community forums are other advanced features that can be added once your app has undergone rigorous user testing.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Good Fitness App
Now that you understand the fitness app industry and popular features, let’s dive into the process of building a platform of your own.
Define the Purpose of Your App
As with any mobile application, the first step to building a successful fitness app will involve defining the overall aim of your platform. For example, you could focus on weight loss, healthy eating, activity tracking, at-home workouts or even meditation and yoga.
While most fitness apps contain many of the same essential features, it’s important to note that the purpose of your app will help determine your target audience and ultimately the features your app will require.
Conduct Market Research and Identify Your Target Audience
After choosing your fitness app’s niche, you will need to identify your target audience based on its main purpose. This will involve conducting thorough market research to determine what types of people will be more inclined to enjoy using your application.
Fortunately, because most people are interested in improving their health, finding a target audience for your app shouldn’t be too difficult. However, you will want to be sure to hone in on that specific demographic, striving to fully understand their preferences and behavior, in order to grow your platform’s user base and ensure it achieves long-term success.
Determine the Features of Your App
The next step is to decide which features your fitness app will require based on your target audience. Basically, what will your ideal user want from a fitness app? If you plan to focus on active individuals looking to track their progress, for example, you’ll want to include features such as a step counter, activity log, and weekly reports.
Alternatively, if your app’s purpose is to help others improve their diet, you should offer a calorie counter, healthy recipes, and personalized meal plans from a licensed nutritionist.
Choose the Right Technologies
Once you’ve chosen which features your fitness app will require, you will need to begin considering the technologies you’ll use for developing the platform. This step will also consist of determining if your app will be developed for iOS or Android. However, you could also build a cross-platform app that can function seamlessly across both operating systems. Typically, cross-platform development is a more economic option, as you can get two apps for the price of one.
A framework is essentially a structure that you can build your software on and serves as the app’s foundation. While there are many frameworks to choose from, at Idea Maker, we recommend React Native and Flutter, both of which are open-sourced options that enable the development of cross-platform apps that use the same codebase.
With a fitness app, it’s a good idea to allow users the ability to monitor and access their health data from wearable devices and sync their workouts from other platforms like Apple Health and Google Fit. This can be done by integrating your app with the AppleHealthKit and HealthKitUI frameworks, as well as Google Fit SDK, enabling users to easily monitor their activity, heart rate and sleep across all their devices.
You’ll also need to implement a system that accepts various payment types such as PayPal, major credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay. This way, users can make in-app purchases or sign up for a premium subscription service.
Design the UI/UX of Your App
Next, you can begin designing your fitness app, paying close attention to the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). These factors will determine how users will interact with your platform and how their overall experience will be. As a result, it’s crucial to ensure your app’s design is not overly complicated or cluttered, with smooth navigation to provide the best experience possible.
Hire Expert Development Agency
Because developing a mobile app requires extensive knowledge and experience, it’s best to hire a reputable development agency to build your fitness platform. However, before hiring a team, you will need to thoroughly research their portfolio to verify that they have the experience needed to properly develop your app. The agency you choose should also offer post-release support options to ensure that your app functions as it should after deployment.
Develop and Test Your Fitness App
After selecting an experienced agency to build your fitness app, you can then begin the process of developing your platform based on your intended design. Once the app is built, you should then rigorously test your app and gather feedback from beta users, resolving any issues prior to its official launch.
Launch and Monitor Your Fitness App
You can now deliver your app to app stores. However, even after its launch, you will still need to continue monitoring your app, checking for bugs and making necessary adjustments. This step will continue for as long as your platform is available on app stores.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Fitness App?
The cost to develop a mobile fitness app will vary from project to project, depending on your required features. Here is a breakdown of what to expect in terms of an app development time frame.
- Technical Documentation: Depending on how your developers operate, they may document their process as they build your app, which should not impact the time frame significantly. However, if they choose to document features after development, you should allow for an extra week’s worth of work.
- Design: The design phase varies the most out of all phases, as it’s dependent on your preferences. For example, if your designers present you with a design you’re not happy with, you may have to go through several iterations. As a result, you should expect two to three weeks for the design process alone.
- Development: Development is generally the longest stage of building a fitness app. Not only do features and a user interface need to be built, but bug fixes and testing also needs to be conducted. Consequently, this stage generally takes at least one to two months.
- Quality Assurance: The QA phase ensures that your app functions properly before launch. It’s best to be thorough at this stage, so leave at least two weeks for testing.
How to Monetize Your Fitness App
Once you’ve built an app, you’ll probably want to monetize it. Here are several ways in which you can monetize your fitness app.
- In-App Ads: This will allow businesses to place ads on your app, charging a fee each time someone clicks on their ads or for every thousand impressions the ad receives.
- In-App Purchases: You can also enable users to purchase additional features such as live classes and videos.
- Subscription Based Model: You could allow users to use your app freely for a week then ask them to pay a monthly subscription fee to continue using the app. This is an excellent way to generate a steady monthly income.
- One-Time Purchase: It’s less common nowadays, but you could simply charge your users a one-time fee for using your app.
Contact Idea Maker to Build a Custom Fitness App
Interested in launching a fitness app of your own? Idea Maker has extensive experience in mobile app development and can help you navigate the entire process. Our expert designers and developers have successfully created platforms for a variety of companies and are dedicated to providing a transparent and stress-free approach to building an app. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step in bringing your vision to life.