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Fitness App Development: Features and Costs

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Yuri Musienko
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Merehead is a leading development company
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The popularity of fitness and running apps has recently been growing and growing. It’s this exact solution that allows controlling activity, weight, calorie burning as effectively as possible. Moreover, it adds a playful and competitive aspect.

Apps have become not so much a startup as an expected and logical solution, investment in which pays off in nearly 100% of the cases due to the continuous growth of a fitness community. This is so for several reasons:

  • sport and fitness have been standing in as something more than a trend for a long time now because almost everyone wants to keep himself fit and is trying to find all possible ways to do it;
  • those, who didn’t have a desire or time for keeping fit until this point, are forced to take up this matter in the period of the pandemic when many people are being reassigned to distance education and work;
  • irregular dietary regime for various reasons (heavy workload, long active or passive rest, problem situations);
  • an inability to calculate the load correctly, which might cause health issues;
  • impossibility to workout with a coach for various reasons.
A fitness app solves all these problems. It can help you make a personal training program, select the necessary exercises, program the app for weight and shape control, and visualize how to do a certain exercise right. Besides, this app is very useful for coaches, who work in gyms and for businessmen, who own them, because a personal «robot coach» will control the correct use of a gym machine, which reduces the likelihood of visitors’ injury and an early breakdown of a gym machine owing to incorrect operation. On top of everything else, any app is pretty easy to monetize due to the increase of social activity, discounts, creation of motivational content, and offering the clients interesting and favorable terms.

Standard tasks of a fitness app

There are more such tasks from year to year because the progress marches on. An indicative but at the same time not the exhaustive list of these tasks:

  • creation of interfaces for various mobile OS because users of various devices with various systems are interested in an active and ordered activity. None of them would buy a new device even for the best, but non-optimized app;
  • heart rate calculation because the heart condition is the most important criterion when regulating time and load ;
  • accurate calculation of calorie expenditure during various types of activity, the reason is many users’ wish and need to eat healthily and regulate the nutrition regime;
  • back-end: admin panel, databases, a website for comfortable interaction with a big number of users;
  • integration with social networks to receive feedback, which will help in the optimization and development of the app;
  • synchronization and immediate data exchange with the back-end for a maximum speed of the system and the decrease of time of download of its elements;
  • connection to GPS, Google maps, other types of navigation for all solo workouts to take place on the route, which the user needs. He will be able to plot the route through all locations on the map that are the key ones to him;
  • counting steps, distance, and exercise reps to develop the individual optimal training program for each user;
  • data exchange with fitness trackers and other gadgets for the user to interact with the app in the process of training with no fear to damage the expensive device or even break it down;
  • development of tools to improve motivation, which will make it possible to hold the client’s interest in workouts and maintain his shape and physical health;
  • work with health data due to such tools as HealthKit and Google Fit.
Each of these requirements was formulated during the interaction with the users of various apps. This set is as universal as possible and suited for any app because such things are necessary for both average users and professional sportsmen.

Types of apps

Unquestionably, all fitness apps vary in functionality, sports specialization, activity tracking, monetization types, forms of motivation, etc. For this reason, they are divided into groups for the ease of classification and users’ choice. The developer should consider this since it would determine not only the profile of the app but also its potential audience.

The first group is related to the number of sports. There are both highly specialized apps like Runtastic, which track only one specific sport or one direction of impact (Runtastic controls solely cardio: walking, running, cycling) and «all in one», which allow selecting from a broad list of sports.

The second group is related to the type of activity recording. The first group is apps, which record the activity constantly throughout the day. A spectacular example is ZealStep, which can switch to a special training mode with an adjustment of selected parameters. The second group is special running or sports apps that become active only during the workout.

The third group is related to the choice of the main goal. In this case, the typology can be very broad indeed. The classification starts with classic «trainers», i.e. the programs that include workout plans, content with technique description, and ready-made sets of workouts.

The main goal of a similar app is a demonstration of how to do certain exercises correctly and a record keeping of workouts to monitor the progress. This category of apps has been considered the most popular one in the past few years.

The second type is focused on nutrition control, creation, and maintenance of diets.

Fitness App Development

These apps are suitable for people, who want to gain or lose weight and change their shape. A good app has adaptive technologies and adjusts itself to each user, keeps records, statistics of results, counts calories, provides special recipes and nutrition tips, and allows sharing your results on social networks and in communities.

The next type of program is a personal trainer.

This program is a customized branded analog of an ordinary trainer app, which is tailored to the clients, who visit gyms and fitness centers of a particular brand. These apps attract new clients to the centers and increase a level of engagement with the entire community and every member in particular.

The fourth type combines the features of several other categories in one app and that is why the audience is growing and the expenditure item is increasing in direct proportion to it. As a rule, everybody benefits; for example, the users (workout control, nutrition control, trackers, personal opportunities – and all of that in one app) and the businessmen (flexibility in the monetization, possibility to implement paid features, increased audience owing to the versatility).

The fifth type is the trackers.

Such apps are the simplest and their task is to count calories, speed, time, distance, and other indicators. Most commonly, these programs use an accelerometer in a smartphone or connect to outside devices like fitness trackers.

The sixth and last type is wellness apps.

Atypical fitness activity in the form of meditation or yoga is duty-bound to have something like that in the current realities. Typically, there are audio and video content, motivators, and timers in such apps.

Specific examples of apps, problems, and solutions to them

You should indeed profit from the experience of existing successful apps when creating your own app bearing in mind that each project should have its own «thing» and consider all mistakes that distinguished developers have made if you want to stand out among the similar ones. In this chapter, we’ll reveal the three most popular trainer programs since the consideration of each type would take a lot of time. This is why we choose the safe route: the majority of fitness apps are precisely «the trainers», which automatically creates a huge base of know-how that their creators have obtained by trial and error providing their colleagues with an opportunity to overcome this period painlessly for their nerves and wallets.

Runtastic

The first app that has become popular among the users deservedly is Runtastic. This «trainer» is focused on cardio workouts: walking, running, and cycling. A list of its capabilities is quite extensive:

  • a web interface that keeps detailed statistics;
  • there are GPS tracking, maps, graphs, workout history;
  • results are being monitored in real time;
  • voice guidance is provided in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Chinese;
  • additional adjustable motivators are available;
  • the interface supports no less than 17 languages;
  • there’s a possibility to set personal goals and compete with friends;
  • an audio player is embedded, due to which you can create your own playlist;
  • the app supports social networks: the Runtastic app as its own service, Facebook, and Twitter;
  • interval workouts;
  • possibility to record speed, time, distance, pace, calories burned;
  • possibility of both creation of unique workouts and using the ready-made routes.

Nonetheless, with this abovementioned set of advantages, there is a range of very significant disadvantages. It’s worthy of single out the minimum features in the free version and pretty annoying advertising. It’s explained by the fact that creators have chosen effective, not to say clichéd, way to monetize their work, which cannot be called unfair because the advertising allows supporting the work of the free version of the app. Altruistic impulse is not in their nature so the free version doesn’t provide the broad functionality – only the basic things. That being said, this is an explanation in terms of reason, but subconsciously most users would react to these factors negatively and choose another app, where these factors will annoy much less. There’s no reason to offer a solution to this small and fairly common problem because it arises from the factors, which can’t be removed given the insufficient funding. If there will be funding, then it will be possible to add features to the free version and remove at least a part of the advertising.

There’s no Russian language in the voice mode. Probably, this shortcoming will be remedied later on, but as of now, it scares off the part of Russian-speaking audience, who prefer voice assistants, given the presence of Russian language in the interface. The problem solution: control over the presence of the language in both the interface and the voice assistant. Surely, it’s demanding in terms of efforts, the updating will weigh more; however, the clients won’t have cognitive dissonance when trying to understand why there’s no recognition of their native speech in the voice assistant.

The next two problems – lack of notifications in case of GPS communication failure and inaccuracies in calorie counting – are solved solely with the help of extra settings and calibration so there’s no point in singling them out.

Runkeeper

This app is intended for active workouts, communication with friends, gaining support, weight control, and motivation. Its incontestable advantages are the possibility to make plans, control one’s progress and achievements, and pretty flexible settings. However, the list of its advantages doesn’t end there and we should briefly touch each one of them apart from the ones that match the previous example:

  • health data is synchronized with more than 70 services including Fitbit, Withings, Garmin, and others;
  • possibility to create a photo report of the process of workouts;
  • wide variety of sports: walking, running, hiking, swimming, rowing, mountain bike, cycling;
  • Russian language is available in both the interface and the voice mode;
  • convenient background mode, in which the app continues its work without failures;
  • minimum advertising and the majority of features are available in the free version.

Meanwhile, there are some shortcomings as well, the emergence of which is caused by the problems that have arisen in the previous app.

To start with, there’s no background pedometer, which means that the user will have to constantly stop the workout to exit the background mode or risk being out of breath. The problem solution: if there is a possibility to add a background version of the app, then you should do it because such a convenient addition is always well received by the audience.

The app also drains the battery very much resulting in that long-term workouts are possible only if you have a charger or a power bank. The problem solution: there are several ways. The first one is related to the soft – special apps are installed, which prolong the device operation and cool the battery. But this won’t solve the problem – it will only alleviate it a little bit. The second one is an optimization of the features by the developer, but you cannot forget that this is a quite demanding arrangement, which will require time and resource investment. The third one is a workout rescheduling considering similar circumstances. In this case, it’s important to remember that the problem acceptance is not synonymous with its solution.

The last but not the least, a lack of possibility to connect the app to a fitness band or a heart rate monitor. At present, the popularity of these gadgets hits record numbers and the integration with them is a must when creating a fitness app.

Endomondo

A unique app, which is marketed as a sports social network. Significant attention is devoted to communication tools, messaging, photos, routes, and achievements inside the app. In spite of it, as much if not more attention is devoted to workout tools.

Aside from the advantages of the apps listed above, Endomondo has its own significant advantages:

  • stats in the form of a diary with the goals and achievements;
  • voice messages from friends and likeminded people during the workout, which can encourage or give tips if the user is making mistakes while doing exercises or he’s doing them in the wrong order;
  • one’s own feed with his friends’ results and events that is integrated with Facebook and Google+;
  • you can add photos from the workout, which helps to motivate the user to achieve at least worthwhile results at his workouts;
  • various gadgets can be connected including heart rate monitors and fitness bands;
  • advertising is soft-sell and looks like an advertiser’s challenge with a prize;
  • a web service with a great number of features.
Messenger features are well accepted by social network users as well as the other advantages, but the monetization way is implemented not less excitingly. Aside from the advertising challenges that make it possible to get the prize, which many users are bribed with, the app by default installs a 30-day premium version with unlimited access to all main features during this time. After the user tried the paid version, he can decide with certainty which option is preferable: the paid one with the full functionality or the free one with the reduced functionality.

We must draw attention to the app shortcomings, but there’s no need to review them in detail since they had previously been considered: quick battery discharge, no background pedometer, no notifications in case of GPS problems, many important features are available only in the paid version.

Cost

It’s time to shift towards a very important and at the same time a quite problematic issue – how much does it cost to develop an app like those listed in the examples? The easiest way to do these calculations on the basis of the estimation of time that a specialist’s work will take. You need to consider only hours of so-called «actual» work and the total number of these hours. A smart move would be marking these numbers at each stage:
  • project preparation (identification of needs, drawing up the technical specifications, structure, core capabilities) – about 50 hours;
  • design (app template) – 98 hours;
  • registration and work with a user profile (welcome screen – 8 hours, registration – 8 hours, stats – 16 hours, workout – 24 hours, profile – 8 hours, rewards – 16 hours, social networks – 4 hours, workout history – 8 hours, HealthKit connection – 4 hours, static screens – 4 hours, settings – 4 hours, rating and reviews – 8 hours, Push messages – 6 hours) – 118 hours for a total;
  • payment (integration with payment systems) – 20 hours;
  • analytics for the project owner (analytics systems connection) – 6 hours.
Overall, the average time of development of a similar app will be about 292 hours of «actual» time. If we take $40 as an average cost of an hour’s work of a qualified developer, then the approximate cost of similar app development will be more than $11.5 thous. It seems like a considerable sum for an initial investment; however, accompanied by high-quality work alignment and the following support, the site will start generating sizeable profits shortly after the launch and it will pay off quite quickly when it gains traction among the target audience.

Good luck with launching your own fitness app!


Fitness App Development: Features and Costs key takeaways:

#1. Standard tasks of a fitness app
#2. Types of apps
#3. Specific examples of apps, problems, and solutions to them
#4. Runtastic
#5. Runkeeper
#6. Endomondo
#7. Cost

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Yuri Musienko
Author of the post
Merehead is a leading development company

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