Fitness apps have become a profitable niche in recent years. There's been a global trend towards fitness, with consumers prioritizing solutions that let them stay healthy from home. Wearables, at-home memberships, virtual coaches — these all offer health junkies the opportunity to improve their fitness at any time and place, often at a more affordable price than a traditional gym membership. If you want to take advantage of this booming e-health market, creating a fitness app is the best way to get started. In this guide, we'll show you how to make a fitness app that outperforms the competition.
Exploring the Fitness App Market
First, let's take a look at the fitness app market — before you hire a development agency, this can help you justify how much it costs to build a fitness app. According to a study by Grandview Research, the global market size for fitness apps reached $1.1 billion in 2021. It is anticipated to experience a CAGR of 16.2% from 2022 to 2030. Part of this growth is attributed to COVID-19, in which many people began exercising from home; the popularity is expected to grow even after the pandemic subsides. We probably won't see the same kinds of numbers that were experienced between 2019 to 2020: during that period of time, the fitness app market increased by 48.8%. However, a 16% - 17% CAGR is still excellent, especially compared to the projected growth rates of other types of apps (productivity apps – 14.2%; dating apps – 9.23%; finance apps – 7%.) Out of all the categories of fitness apps, the exercise and weight loss segment experiences the largest share of revenue; it held over 50% in 2021.
According to the above-mentioned Grandview Research study, key players in the fitness mobile app market include:
Types of Fitness Apps
If you want to create a fitness app, you'll need to narrow down the type; there are several of which to choose from. We'll go over the most common types of fitness apps below.
Activity Tracking Apps
These apps help users keep track of their activity levels. The apps allow their phone or wearable to measure physical activity, such as the number of steps taken. By inputting their height, weight, gender, and age, users can also receive a fairly accurate measurement of calories burned through physical activity. In addition to automatic activity tracking, these apps typically allow users to input activity manually.
Food Tracking Apps
A food tracking app allows users to input the foods they eat and track their calories, macros, micros, and other information. Some apps group foods into categories based on their nutritional status; for instance, users might be encouraged to eat "green" color-coded foods and restrict "red" foods.
Workout apps offer users a variety of workout videos and programs that they can follow along with from the comfort of their homes. Some workout apps are tailored towards a specific type of exercise: for instance, HIIT or Pilates. Others offer a little bit of everything. Often, workout apps offer a subscription-based payment plan and upload new videos every week. There are also apps that let subscribers access live classes led by fitness instructors.
Similar to the previous category, this kind of app offers videos and routines to subscribers — but for yoga "flows" and "practices" rather than workouts. These guided classes teach users how to relax their minds and get in tune with their bodies.
Meditation apps also help users relax their mind—but instead of focusing on physical movement, these apps teach users about meditation skills like deep breathing and being "in the moment." The apps might also offer mood trackers, guided meditations, timers, and stress management tools.
Fitness App Monetization Strategies
Not all fitness apps make money in the same way. Here are some possible monetization models to consider.
Users have to pay to access the app; this could be through a one-time payment or, more commonly, through a recurring subscription. To bring users on board, you could offer a 7-day free trial, so they can familiarize themselves with your features and determine if the app is worth the price tag.
In-app purchases are often offered with free apps. With this model, basic features are provided for free, and users can pay to access premium content. For instance, a workout app could offer general fitness training plans at no cost and offer specific plans (Pilates, HIIT, bodyweight, etc.) for $1.99 each. Similarly, if you're launching a food tracking app, you could allow users to track their meals for free and purchase meal plans for $1.99 each.
In-app advertising is a great way to bring in revenue when offering a free app. And there are different kinds of ads you can display: for a less intrusive experience, you can show apps in banners rather than pop-ups. Alternatively, you can have users watch videos in order to keep watching the video for free.
Many developers that use in-app advertising give users the option to remove ads via an in-app purchase. This can be through a one-time payment, or you can offer a recurring subscription for removing ads (and, perhaps, the subscription would add extra features).
MVP Features to Include in a Fitness App
Which features are you going to include in your fitness app? At the very least, you'll need to include features that can get your MVP up and running. Determine which ones are a priority and flesh those out before moving on to more advanced features. To get you started, we recommend including the following MVP features in your app.
Sign In/Sign Up
There needs to be a way for the user to sign up for an account and access it at a later time. This feature is applicable to pretty much any app — but for a fitness app, you should consider including some extra steps. For instance, they could upload their current height, weight, and health goals. Commonly, users will be asked to select their goals, and options may include losing weight, increasing exercise, reducing stress, and so on. As part of the sign-in page, the user should have the option to reset a forgotten password. Another thing to consider: how will users sign up? Email is a standard registration option, but you could also offer registration via phone or third-party AUTHS (like Facebook, for instance). The options you provide will influence the app development cost.
This is where the user will be able to make changes to the goals and information they set during registration. They can also upload a picture, add a bio, and see fitness & wellness stats at a glance. There should be a way for them to log out or change their password, as well.
The user can access this menu to browse and select workouts. Include filters so they can search for workouts by length, fitness level, targeted body parts, instructor, etc.
The fitness app dashboard will look different depending on what kind of app it is: a nutrition app might have a section for that day's calories, as well as an overview of the week's meals. A workout app could show how many minutes of exercise the user has done that week, displayed next to their goal. To offer users the best experience, you should include goals, statistics, achievements, and a schedule within the dashboard.
If your monetization strategy entails mobile app payments (rather than a free structure with displayed ads), you’ll need to integrate a payment gateway. Stripe is the easiest one to integrate in terms of development hours. Braintree, Paypal, and Dwolla are also commonly used payment gateways, although their integration is more advanced.
Integration With Third-Party Apps
For a general health and wellness app, consider integrating third-party apps. For instance, when you use Garmin's API, you can sync data from MyFitnessPal, Strava, Noom, and more, thereby giving users a more well-rounded fitness tracking experience with extended functionality. For example, many workout apps integrate Google Fit and Apple Health, making it possible for you to present users with data on their nutrition, sleep, health, and physical activity.
Integration With Wearable Devices
If you want to build a fitness tracker app, it will need to retrieve data from activity trackers like Fitbit or Apple Watch. This data can help you provide users with accurate fitness data and personalized workout plans. There are many kinds of wearable devices that your app can integrate with, but the most popular type is wristbands. They can monitor the number of steps taken and heart rate metrics — when combined with personal details like height and weight, they can give a pretty accurate estimate of calories burned and other fitness statistics. Some examples of wristband/wristwatch wearable fitness devices are:
- Fitbit Luxe
- Apple Watch Series 7
- Letsfit Fitness Tracker
- Coros Pace 2
- Fitness Database
If you are building a workout app, consider including a searchable database of individual exercises. This way, users can quickly see the proper form of a certain move without having to watch a video. You could also offer an option for building custom workouts by combing exercises from the database. A database would also be useful for a food tracking app; users can search for calorie and macro information of various foods, rather than having to input it all manually.
Once you've got your MVP features hammered out, it's time to take a look at which advanced features you can include. While it's fine to offer a basic app, these extras will help launch your app above the competition. You could even offer the MVP features as part of a free plan and offer the advanced one as part of a recurring subscription.
Live Streaming, On-Demand Video, Educational Content, Video Tutorials
This is especially pertinent for workout, meditation, and yoga apps. Live streams build a sense of community and accountability; instructor streams from a real fitness studio, and hundreds (or even thousands) of people do the same workout at home at the same time. On-demand videos work a little differently. In most cases, live-streamed workouts are recorded and then uploaded to the app later. This way, if you weren't able to attend a live class, you can do the workout on your own time. Video tutorials aren't quite the same as on-demand videos; they are typically shorter and might explain how to do a certain exercise safely. You can also offer this kind of educational content in written form rather than as a video.
Gamification and Leaderboards
Fitness gamification adds game-like elements to health & wellness tasks. For instance, users can earn achievements for reaching certain goals and milestones (exercising for X minutes per week, losing X pounds, and so on). You can also give points for each task, with the number of points increasing with the task's difficulty. Then, users would be ranked on a leaderboard, and whoever has the most points for the week is displayed at the very top. It's a great way to motivate users and encourage healthy behaviors.
Personal trainers can be very costly, with the average hour-long session costing about $60. So, offering virtual coaches as part of a subscription package can be well worth it for users who want a little extra fitness guidance. Virtual coaches offer users a wealth of fitness knowledge and encouragement; some apps have coaches develop workout and meal plans for users while others are just there to answer health questions via chat.
This is a really useful feature for nutrition and food tracking apps! The user scans a barcode on packaged food with their smartphone, and the nutritional content is automatically uploaded to their app.
How to Start Your Own Fitness App Business
So, at this point, you should now have an idea of (1) the type of fitness app you want to make, (2) which MVP features to include, (3) which advanced features to include, and (4) the apps’s monetization model. Are you ready to make things more concrete? It's time to create a business plan. Read on, and we'll walk you through the process!
Set Up a Product Building Canvas
First, go ahead and make a fitness app product canvas; we recommend using Lean Canvas — it replaces huge business plans with a single-page model.
Why Lean Canvas?
- Fast: Outline multiple business models in a day
- Portable: A single-page model is easier to share
- Concise: It forces you to sum up the essence of your product, grabbing the attention of an investor in a mere 30 seconds.
- Effective: The built-in presentation tools let you effectively document progress and communicate it to your team and stakeholders.
Market Analysis and App Positioning
Understanding your customers is the first stepping stone to success. And to understand them, you'll need to conduct a market analysis. It can be broken up into research of 4 elements: the industry, your target market, your competition, and pricing/forecast. Next, you'll tackle app positioning. This strategic exercise helps you establish what your brand's image should look like to a consumer. For instance, you might position your brand as better than its competitors, competitively priced, high-quality, a more convenient option, etc.
Developing a marketing plan is just as essential as building the fitness app itself. What to include in your marketing plan:
- Paid User Acquisition: How will you use advertisements to gain customers and track analytics?
- Social Media Marketing: Which social media platforms will you place advertisements on? Will you integrate social media into your app so users can share their fitness progress with their friends and followers?
- Influencer Marketing: Will you work with influencers to raise awareness for your app? Will you work with big-name influencers or micro-influencers?
- Email Marketing: This is one of the most effective marketing channels, so don't neglect it. Set up a plan to grow your mailing list.
- Content Marketing: Will you publish user-generated content? Motivational or educational content? Long-form or bite-sized?
- Search Engine Optimization: Which keywords are the most relevant to your niche? Which on-page and off-page SEO techniques will you implement?
Consider Basic Fitness App Features
Select the basic features that you'll need for your MVP. We mentioned them earlier, but here's a recap of what to include (of course, this could vary, depending on the type of fitness app you're developing).
- Registration & Sign In
- User Profile
- Workout Menu
- Integration With Third-Party Apps and Wearables
- Fitness Database
Choose the Monetization Model
Select which monetization model you will use (or if you'll be doing a combination). As a refresher, these are the main models to choose from:
- Paid app (one-time cost or recurring subscription)
- In-app purchases
You will prepare an initial description of the product. When you hire a development team, they will flesh your description out into a full Software Requirements Specification (SRS). An SRS is used to:
- Define your product’s purpose (intended audience, intended use, product scope)
- Describe what will be built (assumptions/dependencies, user needs)
- Detail specific requirements (functional and nonfunctional requirements)
Hire a Development Team
Now here's a big question: how do you choose a development team that's capable of transforming your business plan into a viable app? And why should you choose to work with a team instead of hiring a single freelance developer? First of all, a development team gives you access to an array of skilled members, including UX and product designers, experienced developers, and a project manager. The more eyes that are on your idea, the better your product will be. You'll get to crowdsource valuable insights — one developer just can't give you that kind of depth. As far as selecting a fitness mobile app development team, you'll need to choose one that is located in a convenient time zone, prioritizes communication, and has a strong fitness app portfolio. We also recommend working with an agency that follows Agile SDLC, as it gives you a chance to adjust the original plan if changes are needed.
Fitness Application Development
The development team you select will handle this part, but they will still communicate with you about the project's progress.
Once the app is built, you will release it on the App Store, Google Play, or both. We also recommend launching a dedicated website and uploading a demo video. Don't forget to use app-store optimization and SEO to get eyes on your product!
How To Create a Fitness App: Step-by-Step With a Vendor
Want to know how your fitness app development team will handle their end of things? While we can't speak for every vendor out there, we can show you how we'd do it at Brocoders.
The Inception Phase
In this phase, we work with you to establish goals and gather requirements. We'll identify the risk factors of the project and estimate fitness app development costs. This phase is all about determining the project's scope and architecture.
This is a generic term that refers to documentation we create related to your app's development. Here are just a few examples:
- A product requirement document, which outlines the team's roles and responsibilities, user stories, assumptions, criteria of acceptance, and user interaction.
- UX design documentation, which covers user personas, user scenarios, a user story map, a scenario map, and a user story guide
- Source code documentation, which includes security measures, frameworks, the design pattern, and data binding types
Once you sign off on documentation, our design team will figure out how your ideas can be transformed into a working system. Using the info from technical documentation, designers will consider compatibility, modularity, reliability, robustness, security, scalability, and more.
We determine how many engineers are needed and select a tech stack — for instance, React Native for building cross platform application, React.js/Node.js for the admin panel and AWS Lambda for cloud backend. Then, our developers get to work!
Our quality assurance team makes sure that your app is bug-free, works flawlessly under all circumstances, and fulfills the planned functionality. QAs carry out functional and non-functional testing.
When the product is ready to be used by end-users, we'll put it into production and provide post-launch support.
How Much Does It Cost to Make a Fitness App MVP?
In our experience, we've found fitness apps to require a certain amount of work hours from these roles:
|Phases||Responsible||Estimation in hours||Average rate|
|Discovery phase||PM, BA, stakeholders||200+ hours||$35/hour|
|Design||UX/UI designer||150+ hours||$35/hour|
|Development||Frontend developers, Backend developers, Devops services||900+ hours||$45+/hour|
|QA||QA engineer||450+ hours.||$35/hour|
If you want to estimate how much your fitness app will cost to develop based on its requirements, use our fitness app development calculator.
How Can We Help You?
Do you have an idea for a fitness app? We're ready to make your idea a reality! At Brocoders, our skilled team is ready to craft a health and wellness solution that levels-up your customers' fitness journeys. Whether you need data collection, activity tracking, or health metrics prediction, we have the technology and the expertise needed to make it happen. Want to see Brocoders in action? Check out this case study; we integrated Strava, Google Fit, and Garmin into software to help users reach their fitness goals.