A step-by-step guide to fitness app development: Discussing app formats, essential features, and a real mobile app development case

A step-by-step guide to fitness app development.

Research from McKinsey indicates that wellness at home and biomonitoring with wearables are among the key global wellness trends shaping the future of the health and fitness industry. As individuals increasingly prioritize their well-being and seek to monitor their health metrics, the demand for fitness and wellness apps is on the rise. Given this growing trend toward digital health solutions, there has never been a better time to delve into fitness app development and seize the opportunities presented by the thriving wellness market.

In this article, we are going to review key fitness app market metrics, talk about methods app owners can engage users and monetize their product, and provide our own case of creating a custom software solution for this market.

Fitness app market overview

According to research provided by Statista, this market will keep growing till 2030 with revenue stats reaching $6.86 billion this year. The key factor that initiated the steep market growth was the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time many people have understood it’s much easier to work out in the comfort of their homes without the need to lose time on going to the gym. Here are other takeaways from the report:

A graph that proves feasibility of fitness app development
A graph showing number of users in different types of fitness apps
  • As you can see in the graph, the number of users who use free apps and those who are willing to pay for the app functionality will keep growing in the upcoming years. The average revenue per user is $17.84 — a relatively high point that can persuade some investors to cooperate with you.
  • A prominent trend observed in the fitness app industry is the incorporation of wearable technology. Fitness applications are progressively being developed to synchronize with wearable gadgets like smartwatches and fitness trackers. This synergy enables users to precisely monitor their fitness routines and track their advancements with greater precision.
  • According to Statista’s analyst, social media features are in the trend, and that’s why they are worth incorporating. The users usually get more motivated and engaged in the fitness application if they can share their training results with friends and family.
  • The popularity of fitness apps varies from region to region. It increases in regions where there are many smartphone users, for instance in the USA or China. These apps are also popular where the fitness culture is strong, for instance in Australia and Sweden.

All in all, the interest in fitness apps is constantly rising. One of the driving factors behind it is raising awareness of the health and wellness importance. It’s one of the markets that will keep expanding and providing room for new market players. That’s why we can name fitness app development a viable business idea.

Types of fitness and wellness apps

The topic of fitness and healthy lifestyle is a trend, that’s why the market is filled with apps for each step of the user’s healthy routine. If you are still feeling uncertain about the idea you want to implement in the process of fitness app development, you may choose one of the following or get a mixture of features that would cover the different needs of the user. Here’s the list of fitness app types that you may choose from:

Workout and exercise apps

These apps offer a wide range of workout plans, exercise videos, and fitness challenges that can be customized based on individual goals, fitness levels, and preferences. Users can choose from different workout categories such as strength training, cardio, yoga, HIIT, dance workouts, and more. Some fitness applications of this type also include progress-tracking features, performance analytics, and reminders to keep users on track with their fitness goals. Nike Training Club, Fitbod, and MyFitnessPal can be called fitness apps of this type.

Here are the screens from Fitbod. It provides AI-powered features to help users to load different muscle groups evenly
Fitbod, an AI-powered fitness app

Diet and nutrition app

These apps provide users with features to input their daily consumption, count calories automatically, track nutrient intake, monitor macronutrients, set personal diet goals, break them down into steps, and motivate users to achieve these goals. Additional functionality that diet apps require includes barcode scanning to ease up food tracking, meal planning tools, recipe storage with energy value counted as well as guided meal recommendations to ensure a well-rounded and balanced diet. The example of diet apps include Lose It! And Yazio.

Activity tracking app

As a part of fitness app development, you may get an application for activity tracking. These apps utilize GPS technology and sensors to capture data on activities such as walking, running, cycling, hiking, and more. With the help of these tech tools, users can monitor metrics like distance covered, pace, route maps, elevation gain, and calories burned in real time.

Just like all the other apps, activity trackers offer functionality for goal-setting and workout history tracking. Some fitness applications like this include features to share progress with friends, family, and social networks, which enhances user’s motivation. They can also collect the data using wearable devices. Strava, MapMyRun, and Google Fit can be called activity tracking app examples.

App concept that can be used for fitness app development
Our team has recently released an activity tracking app concept for hikers enjoying walks along complicated terrains and trails

Personalized coaching apps

This type of fitness app is quite similar to workout apps: it offers workout plans, and lists of exercises and supports the use throughout the sports journey. The difference is coaching apps provide a more personalized approach to the fitness routine. While using it, users can communicate with virtual trainers, watch interactive workout videos, receive real-time feedback, and use progress tracking tools to optimize user performance and ensure accountability. Coaching fitness applications require features for online streaming. Examples include Fitbit Coach, Freeletics, Sworkit, and others.

Health tracking apps

Some users need to daily track their health parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels to maintain a healthier lifestyle or for medical purposes. These apps connect to wearable devices and smart scales as well as provide tools for data collection, trend analysis, and visualizations, health monitoring apps. Health tracking applications enable users to proactively manage their health and make informed decisions. At the same time, they provide doctors with an opportunity to track the health of their patients daily. App examples include Welltory, Withings Health Mate, and others.

Samsung Health, a fitness app that connects to smartwatches
Samsung Health connects to smartwatches and helps to track the body composition

Sleep tracking apps

Sleep trackers are a type of wellness app that has gained popularity for helping individuals monitor and optimize their sleep patterns to achieve better rest and overall well-being. These apps use sensors, accelerometers, and sound analysis to track users' sleep duration, quality, and disturbances throughout the night. By providing detailed sleep analysis, insights into sleep stages, and personalized tips for improving sleep hygiene, sleep-tracking apps empower users to establish healthy sleep routines and identify factors affecting their sleep quality. Examples include Sleep Cycle, Pillow, Relax Melodies, and other apps.

Meditation and mindfulness apps

Fitness and wellness don’t only compromise tools for maintaining physical activity, they can also help with mental health. This type of wellness app provides users with a range of guided meditation sessions, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness practices that are designed to help users cultivate awareness, improve emotional balance, and foster a sense of calmness and mental clarity. With the help of these apps, users of any level of experience in meditation can include these practices in their daily routine. Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer can be included in the list of meditation apps.

MindEasy wellness app
Our team has created the design for the MindEasy mindfulness app. Here are some screens from the app concept

Habit-tracking apps

These apps don’t encourage users to engage in sports activity directly. However, it supports users in creating good habits such as drinking water, taking regular breaks, practicing gratitude, or engaging in physical activity to improve overall well-being. This wellness app will send users habit reminders, dashboards, and motivational prompts to keep users motivated. The app examples include Habitica, Streaks, Fabulous, and others.

We have named only 8 types of apps that you can get as a result of fitness app development. There are many other formats in the field of physical activity such as senior wellness apps and women’s health apps targeted at specific audiences, posture correcting apps, social fitness apps targeted at a specific community of people, and many others. During the mobile app development, you may choose to get any number of features you want and combine these formats if they better match your business goal.

Searching for a fitness app development service provider? Tell us about your business idea!

What else should we take into account in the process of custom fitness app development?

Before diving into the fitness app development procedure, we should think through some of the app aspects so it could become a viable business tool. Here’s the list of these aspects:

Key fitness app features

In most of the formats, you will need only two apps to maintain the work of your fitness app business: a mobile or web user app, and a web admin panel. If you are going to be an intermediary between the customers and sports coaches, you will need to create an additional app for the coaches who will run video training sessions.

If you want to test your business idea as quickly as possible, you can stick to the MVP approach. This means that you implement a minimum of features for the app to function so it can be tested with early adopters, gather feedback, and further enhance the app based on it. Here we’d love to enumerate a list of MVP features for a workout app that need to be implemented during the mobile app development.

  • User registration — allows users to create accounts, log in, and personalize their profiles.
  • Workout library — provides a variety of pre-built workout routines spanning different fitness levels, durations, and exercise categories.
  • Custom workouts — enable your fitness application users to create and save their custom workout plans based on their preferences and goals.
  • Exercise demonstrations — include instructional videos, images, or text descriptions for each exercise to guide users on proper form and technique.
  • Progress tracking — allows users to record their workout sessions, track performance metrics (e.g., sets, reps, weight), and monitor progress over time.
  • Reminder and scheduling — implement reminder notifications for upcoming workouts and a calendar feature to schedule future exercise sessions.
  • Goal setting — enables users to set fitness goals, track their achievements, and receive motivational feedback upon goal completion.
  • Feedback and ratings — collect user feedback through ratings and reviews to improve app functionality and workout content.

Methods to raise user engagement within your fitness app

While planning to engage in fitness app development, any entrepreneur needs to address the issue of user engagement as it directly impacts the app's success and the potential profit you can make within the app. We have enumerated several features that can help you raise user engagement:

Provide integration with wearable devices: According to surveys, 22% of UK citizens own smartwatches and use them in their daily lives. This percentage comprises people of all ages, from 16 to 65+ years. Connection with wearable devices like smartwatches or scales creates a more immersive experience for fitness application users and provides them with the ability to track workout results on the go.

Gamification: Incorporate gamification elements such as challenges, rewards, badges, and leaderboards into your fitness app. Zombies, Run! is a cool example of gamification in the running app. This app gamifies running by immersing users in a zombie apocalypse storyline where they must run to escape zombies, collect supplies, and complete missions to progress through the game.

Gamification in Zombies, Run! fitness app
The Zombies, Run! team also enables Marvel-themed gamification, now you can become a superhero as you run

Social sharing: You can provide your fitness application users with the functionality to share their achievements and progress milestones on social media. As a result, you will get an opportunity to receive new users represented by friends and family of the user who mentions your app on social networks.

Community building: When users feel a sense of community, it facilitates interaction between them, fostering peer support, and enabling users to connect, share experiences, and motivate each other on their fitness journeys as well as use your fitness app more frequently. Typical community-building features include chats, discussion boards, forums, challenges and contests, and other social networking features.

Personalization: Offer personalized recommendations, customized workout plans, and tailored content based on users' preferences, fitness goals, and progress to enhance user engagement and retention.

Are you searching for a fitness app development company to refine the list of app features? It seems like we can help!

Monetization strategies for fitness apps

A solid monetization strategy is a vital component of any successful fitness app. These apps can be monetized with classic methods that are usually used in most mobile apps. These include:

  • Subscription — a model where users need to pay monthly or annual fees to get access to the app’s functionality.
  • Freemium — with freemium, users can access the basic app functionality for free and pay to use premium features.
  • Premium — charging users a one-time fee to download the fitness app from app stores like Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Advertising — you can receive revenue by displaying third-party ads in the app.

However, fitness apps provide many other opportunities for generating revenue including the following examples:

  • E-commerce functionality — you can either sell goods of your own brand or branded merchandise, fitness apparel, equipment, or nutritional supplements within the app, allowing users to make purchases that complement their fitness journey.
  • In-app fees — if you serve as an intermediary for trainers and their customers, you can get fees for training sessions that trainers organize with your digital platform.
  • Premium workout plans — offering premium workout plans, coaching sessions, or personalized training programs as in-app purchases for users seeking advanced fitness guidance.
  • Fitness challenges — organizing virtual fitness challenges, community events, or group workouts that users can join for a fee, with the opportunity to win prizes or rewards for participation and achievement.
  • Brand promotion — you may be the owner of a sports brand or a network of gyms, and you can promote your own brand via the fitness app. You may engage users in the online community and then persuade them to buy your goods or services.
Nike Training Club fitness app screens
One common example of this is the Nike Training Club fitness app that encourages users to keep their sports routine and promotes fitness apparel

You can use multiple monetization strategies within your app. For example, you can mix a subscription model to make the monthly income more predictable and sell goods and in-app content that caters to the different needs of the user.

Laws that fitness apps should comply with

Fitness apps usually collect and use users’ personal information and health data. Therefore, it’s extremely important to comply with them in the process of fitness app development, otherwise, you may encounter heavy fees. Below we’ll provide a list of regulations to comply with. It’s worth mentioning that we enumerated laws that are valid in the territories of the USA and European Union. However, the analogs of these laws exist in most countries, and that’s why you’d better find and check them.

  1. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): During mobile app development, you will have to ensure that the app complies with GDPR requirements for data protection and privacy standards, particularly for users in the European Union. This means the app developer will have to include features for users to provide consent for data processing, clearly communicate privacy policies, offer options for data deletion, and incorporate data encryption to secure user information.
  2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): HIPAA is a law connected to the protection of the user’s health data protection. It is established in the US, however, it has its analogs in Australia, Canada, the UK, and other countries. To comply with this law, implement HIPAA-compliant features such as secure data transmission, user authentication mechanisms, audit trails for data access, and robust data backup and recovery solutions.
  3. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): If you want kids under 13 to be able to train with your app, you’ll need to comply with COPPA. To make your fitness app COPPA-compliant, you need to implement age verification mechanisms, obtain parental consent before collecting any personal data from children, offer parental controls for monitoring and managing children's activities, and incorporate child-friendly privacy settings.
  4. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Adherence to PCI DSS standards is necessary for apps processing online payments to secure payment card data, prevent fraud, and maintain secure transactions. Developers must implement encryption protocols, secure payment gateways, and regular security assessments to comply with PCI DSS requirements and protect users' financial information.

Ronas IT experience

As a fitness app development company, Ronas IT team has participated in several health and wellness projects: we developed a fitness app, created a design for a mindfulness mobile app, created illustrations for a physiological podcast mobile application, and participated in many other fitness app development projects.

We have a prominent mobile app development project, we’d love to share with you. A few years ago our team designed and developed a classic fitness application for home training with fitness coaches called Fitness Buddy. We’d love to tell you about the project flow step by step.

A design mockup for Fitness Buddy fitness app development project

Creating a list of features. We usually begin the work with the discovery phase, where our managers contact the customer and find out about the requirements and business goals. Based on this information, they create a list of the features for fitness app development and estimate the timeline of the development and price. It was decided to implement the following list of features:

  • Login — users can sign up with their email or social media account and restore the forgotten password.
  • Watching broadcasts — users can watch broadcasts run by coaches and other users.
  • Streaming yourself — users are provided with features to run their streams.
  • User profile — in the profile, users can leave their info, set access, change passwords, and see reviews from other users.
  • Calendar — displays the training sessions available for the user, sessions can be filtered.
  • Coach account — users can read information about coaches to choose the most suitable ones.
  • Goal setting — users can set training goals and track their progress.
  • Connection with wearable devices — users can input information about their activity and heart rate through the smartwatches.

UI/UX design. Our designers created wireframes and a mind map to fix the fitness app features and represent the layout and complicated flows of the future app. After the preparatory phase, they created a detailed design.

For this fitness application, we chose the dark theme, so it is convenient to use both during the day, in the rays of the dawn sun, or late in the evening. The dark background is complemented with vivid accent colors creating an outstanding app look.

A design mockup for Fitness Buddy fitness app development project

Development. After UI/UX design mockups were completed and approved by our customer, we started the coding phase. At this stage of custom fitness app development, we used the following tech stack.

For mobile app development, we used React Native, a framework that allows the creation of applications compatible with iOS and Android at the same time. The usage of this framework helped to save both the time and resources of the customer since we could create only one code base in JavaScript and implement it for both platforms.

In the process of mobile app development, we also utilized Redux, a powerful state management tool designed for managing application state and data flow within the app, and Node.js as the server-side runtime environment for developing a scalable backend of the app.

We enable video streaming by using a combination of WebRTC and Amazon Web Services. The former facilitates seamless peer-to-peer audio and video communication, real-time data exchange, and low-latency streaming capabilities, while the latter offers secure, scalable, and reliable storage solutions for hosting a large volume of video content.

In the process of fitness app development, we also needed to provide features for connecting wearable devices to the application. We made it real by using Wear OS and HealthKit to enable these features for iOS and Android.

Results. Our team has managed to complete this fitness app development project within 14 weeks. The app was launched in the app stores. The customer was satisfied with our work and stayed with us to make further enhancements to the Fitness Buddy application.

Are you searching for a fitness app development company to build a similar app for you? Contact us!

Discussing fitness app development cost

App development pricing is a complicated issue that relies on several factors. These include the complexity of your app, the number of its features, and the approach to the development. More than that, it will depend on the hiring model you choose. If you are going to hire an in-house team, you will need to pay your employees, which will constitute the fitness application’s price.

If you are to use outsourced fitness app development services, the price depends on the hourly rate, the third-party agency charges, its location, and experience. To provide you with the average price estimate, let’s take a look at the graph provided by Clutch. Here's the price custom software agencies usually charge for mobile app development.

Stats that reflect pricing of fitness app development

During 15 years on the market, our fitness app development company has gained comprehensive experience in project estimates. We can find out your requirements and your idea, create a breakdown by features, and estimate the timeline and cost of the application. Here’s one of our estimate examples.

EntitiesUI/UX designDevelopmentProject management
  • UI Kit
  • Design concept
  • Mind map

Features:

  • Signing up with a phone number or social login
  • Goal setting
  • Filling in current body parameters
  • Viewing and filtering workouts
  • Saving/starting/pausing the workout
  • List of saved workouts
  • Profile settings — purchase subscription, delete an account, change body parameters
106 hours or 4 weeks

~ $4,240
800–900 hours, 5–6 months

~$40,000–$45,000
Works in parallel with the teams

$320 per week
Total: $51,920–$58,200

When counting the fitness app development cost, we need to keep in mind that an estimate for each of the apps will vary depending on their features and complexity. Except for fitness app development services from outsourced agencies, you may choose freelancers as your contractors. Although this is a viable scenario, you may face problems in communication with them and hardships of forming a functioning team that leads at each stage from idea to UI/UX design, development, and release.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the rise of health-conscious trends has propelled the growth of the fitness app industry, offering a wealth of opportunities for innovation and creativity. The market is ripe for new ideas and formats that cater to the evolving needs and preferences of users seeking engaging and effective fitness solutions. Drawing inspiration from successful examples like the Zombies, Run! app, which gamifies running with a unique storyline, you are encouraged to explore and implement our boldest ideas in the fitness app space.

Use our fitness app development service to bring your boldest software ideas to life!

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