How to build a fitness app that will make people come back again and again

Have you ever had an idea to build a fitness application to promote a healthy lifestyle or maybe boost your gym’s stats by developing a custom system for your visitors? If you’ve answered “Yes!” but don’t know where to start - I’ll try to do my best and make everything clearer. In this article, I will outline the core features your product should have in order to be competitive within the industry. Maybe I’ll also throw in a few ideas or optional features that might make your regular fitness app an amazing one!

As an example, I will assume that we want to create a complex application that is going to be used on a bigger scale, not only by gym-goers but also personal trainers. It might require developing 2 separate apps, but many features will be common, hence you can re-use them.


That’s exactly what we did when developing InfoGym - an award-winning fitness platform from Norway. Find out more in our case study.

InfoGym Case Study



Of course, that means that you’ll need to develop 4 applications, if you’d like to have it available on both Android and iOS systems. React Native might come to the rescue since you can share the code between platforms, but it’s better to consult with your development team, as it depends on what kind of features you’re planning to implement in the app.

Now, onwards we go!

Core features

Tracking progress:

As you can imagine, the majority of people go to the gym with a specific goal in mind. The best way to reach that goal is to track your progress along the way. To do so, you should provide your users with a way to monitor their workout outcomes while not scaring them away with a wide range of variables. I’d suggest designing 2 separate views: one for casual gym-goers and the other, more detailed one, for professional athletes. If you want to go really hardcore, implement artificial intelligence that can coach your users, based on their personal statistics.

Exercises guides:

If we ask a bunch of random people who are not working out about their reasons behind that and bypass superficial excuses, we end up at the core of their lack of motivation - high barrier for entry. What I mean by that is that you need to spend many hours researching the right techniques of how to perform each exercise, unless you want to go pay not-that-low hourly rate to a personal trainer. For that reason, it’s important to provide your users with assistance and teach them how to work out.

Workout plans

Reaching great results requires a plan. In our case, a workout plan. And what’s the best way to keep your users coming back to your app if not keeping their routines within the app? Combine it with a workout journal and they’ll be using your software on a regular basis.

Workout journal

Knowing what exercises you did, when and how much is particularly important for gym-goers, fitness enthusiasts or even private trainers. Make sure your users can tailor it to their needs: measuring units, auto-connecting with their workout plans etc.

Offline mode

This is something that I personally find really important. Some gyms are located in basements or other places that have close to no or no cellular connection. It’s a struggle when you think that you’ve prepared the plan, ready to kill the workout, to later find out that your app requires an internet connection to work and you end up confused, without any idea what to do now. It’s particularly crucial for fitness newbies, who are just starting their journey with workouts. Implement an offline mode and they will be extremely thankful.

Notifications and reminders

This one is quite simple and speaks for itself. Remind your users to workout, send them some interesting motivational information, but don’t be boring. Don’t push them a notification that says something like “Workout is very important”, you’ll quickly become a contestant for The Fastest Closed Notification Award.

Contact with the trainer

If you’re developing a fitness platform for both gym-goers and personal trainers, it’d be amazing if they could interact with each other via your platform. The more their workouts’ success is attached to your application, the better for you. Your competitors will have much harder times convincing your users that they must drop everything and move to their platform.

Schedules

As a personal trainer, you need to manage your trainees. You can use Google Calendar, but how great would it be to have your professional schedule in the same place as other important data? Even better if the schedule is interconnected with users module which allows them to instantly book a PT session according to your timetable.

Additional ideas

There are also some features that I don’t find exceptionally important (which doesn’t mean it isn’t worth to have them) and some that I’ve never seen in any fitness application. Maybe I didn’t use most of them long enough to discover it, hidden in one of the many menus, but from a user experience perspective, I’ll qualify them as “lacking”.

Timers - so your users don’t have to switch apps every minute.

Always-on screen - I don’t know many people, if any, who love to disable their security measures every time they go to the gym. Which means they are stuck with constant phone unlocking. Annoying.

Gamification - interesting gamification can add loads of fun as well as additional motivation

Third-party apps integration (like Samsung Health) - you don’t want to lose users who wish to have all their health-related information in one place

Music apps integration - this one was suggest by Katrin, a colleague of mine who happens to be a running-enthusiast and on multiple occasions had issues with switching apps between Spotify and a running app. It would crash, lose GPS connection and, as you’d expect, that app was immediately sent to hell.

Third-party devices integration - smart trackers are growing in popularity, sometimes to such an extent, that one of the biggest Canadian health insurance companies announced that they will stop providing their services to people who are not wearing smart bands to monitor their health.

Events - provide your users with an opportunity to create public/private events, so they can meet new people, workout together or even create something bigger (like a marathon around a lake), all within your product.

AI-camera analysis - this is one I’ve never seen before, but my idea is that you can use your users’ cameras to identify what kind of exercises they are doing and analyze, for example, their technique. If they don’t perform an exercise in the right way, your app can coach them accordingly.

Costs

When it comes to costs of development, it really depends on many variables and requires a dedicated estimation. If you’d like us to do it, we’ll be more than keen to help you. Fill in the contact form below we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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