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15 October 2020

How to create fitness app?

According to Polaris Market Research, over the next five years, the fitness app market will grow by 20% per year, while the revenue of such apps, according to Statista, will grow by 5% per year. It follows from this that if you are planning to create your own fitness app, then the best thing to do it now. In our article, we will tell you about the main nuances and stages of this process.

Fitness app type


Before moving on to the concept, design and functionality, you need to understand what type of fitness services your application will belong to. Usually such services are conventionally divided into three categories:

For training and exercises. This type of application serves as a kind of personal trainer that will tell you what exercises to do and for what purpose, and also help with a personal training program and tracking what has already been done. For example, in Sworkit, you can select the type of training (strength, cardio or stretching), specify the time and goals, after which the service will create an individual training plan with video instructions for each exercise.

Other examples: Nike Training Club, Workout Book, 7 Minute Workout and Asana Rebel.

Sworkit (Fitness App)

To track activity. Applications in this category can track the user's physical activity: the number of steps, flights of stairs, sleep time, speed while running, calories burned, etc. This is possible thanks to integration with some phone functions (GPS, gyroscope) and fitness trackers (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Xiaomi Mi Band). For example, Fitbod uses artificial intelligence to track physical activity and develop personalized training plans based on user goals and preferences.

Other examples: Nike Training Club, Runtastic, Google Fit and Apple Health.

Fitbod (Fitness App)

For diet and nutrition. These apps help users manage weight by counting calories consumed and burned, controlling water balance, and promoting healthy eating habits. Usually they are made in the form of a journal with recommendations that are compiled based on the goals of the users: lose weight, gain weight, nutrition for intense training, etc. More sophisticated diet and nutrition apps like GrowFit allow you to chat with professional nutritionists and make in-app purchases.

Other examples: HealthyOut, MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, Fooducate and MyPlate.

GrowFit (Fitness App)

Fitness app niche


What exercises and sports do Americans prefer? A source: U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics

Next, you need to choose a specific niche and target audience, the needs of which will be served by the fitness application. This is important as the niche affects design and functionality. For example, to create a regular fitness app for yoga, you need to implement a workout (nutrition) log, recommendations and a timer, while a fitness app for running also requires integration with GPS, or even better with trackers that track heart rate and galvanic response.

You need to choose a niche based on user preferences and the presence of competitors. So, if you are focused on the US, then it is mainly walking, running, weightlifting, cardio and yoga, as well as some sports (basketball, golf, bowling). At the same time, men mostly prefer to go in for sports and weightlifting, and women - aerobics, yoga and cardio.

In each such direction, an even narrower niche can be dug. For example, the Tabata HIIT Interval Timer app is aimed at those who need high-intensity quick workouts, which is suitable for people who are accustomed to high physical activity, and is contraindicated for beginners. Whereas Nike Run Club will find running partners in your area. Shock will help housewives stay in shape. Peloton is designed exclusively for cyclists. FitBit relies on real famous trainers, and more.

There are also more specific fitness apps. For example, Sleep Cycle uses the accelerometer and microphone of a phone or fitness tracker to track the movement of users while they sleep, to wake them up during REM cycle (for a user-defined amount of time), which is much nicer and makes them feel more rested and ready for the upcoming day and training.

ClassPass shows fitness centers and gyms in your city on a map, indicating the type, time and cost of classes so that the user can choose the most convenient option for him. Zombies, Run! requires users to run and walk in the real world in order to complete a video game mission and progress through the storyline. Charity Miles donates 10 to 25 cents to a charity for every mile a user travels.

Fitness app basic functions


List of functions of the standard fitness app

The basic ones include functions that are found in almost all fitness applications, regardless of their type and niche. Usually, this is registration, user profiles, integration with social networks, notifications, goal setting, planning, training log, recommendations, geolocation, and more. And they are created, as a rule, according to a standard template, so that users immediately understand what and how to do.

Depending on the type and niche, some fitness apps may also have additional features. Here are some of the most popular:

Gamification and user motivation



Fitbit implements many elements of gamification of mobile applications: icons, original tasks, social activity, etc


Gamification is the use of gaming practices in a non-gaming context to motivate people to achieve their intended goal. In fitness applications, this is, as a rule, the implementation of various awards, tables of achievements and comparison of user success (rating of leaders and falling behind). These kinds of things help motivate people, because they exploit some of the features of our brain, which, with the help of hormones, pushes us to do something.

When building your fitness app, you should also use gamification elements to motivate people to exercise and thus increase their passion and loyalty. Но делать это нужно правильно, а не по шаблону. For example, for fitness goals to better exploit the brain's dopamine system, they need to be clear and easy to achieve.

If the goal seems distant or difficult, then it needs to be divided into smaller sub-tasks that are easy to complete:

Another example is the right incentives. Usually, fitness apps simply reward for achieving goals, which certainly works. However, experiments show that if you add a gambling component to this process and give out a reward only 50% of the time in a random order, then the level of dopamine release (and involvement) will be much higher (which is why gambling is such a strong addiction).

Dopamine release rate at 50% and 100% probability of reward. Source: "The Biology of Good and Evil" by Robert Sapolsky

Besides, it is also important to understand that you need to create new fitness habits one at a time and it takes about 45 days. And you should start out small. For example, if a user wants to adopt the habit of squatting every day, then he needs to set a goal: do 5 squats for 45 days. The difficulty can be increased if a person is engaged in a group or already goes to the fitness room.

You can read about all this in specialized popular science literature, for example, in “Biology of Good and Evil. How Science Explains Our Actions” by Robert Sapolsky and “Willpower. How to develop and strengthen” by Kelly McGonigal.

Monetizing Fitness Apps


Fitness apps can generate income in several ways. For example, Fitbit Coach gives you access to an unlimited number of workouts in HD-format for $ 80 per year. Fitocracy provides a true personal fitness trainer, personalized workout and nutrition plans for $ 1 a day. Pact will charge you for skipping workouts. Blogilates sells sportswear.

All these and other methods can be summarized in five monetization models:
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