How to Develop a Fitness Application to Help You Get In Shape


Trends in Mobile Apps

Life is getting more and more saturated, and fast, but people still want to have time for everything: work and personal time, and to be fit, of course. There is simply not enough time for all activities on any given day, and this is where mobile device come to the rescue. Mobile devices now constantly accompany their owners, and they can replace secretaries, teachers, trainers and other professionals, where appropriate.

How to Develop a Fitness Application to Help You Get In Shape

The interest in your own health and fitness is like a wave. Established in 2008, Google Health project closed down in 2011. In 2014, however, the Google Fit app was released alongside Apple Health, and they are now the most popular on the market, to date. In addition to these projects, there are several other applications of this kind, for example, MyFitnessPal, one of the original fitness apps, and Fitbit.

Worth and Growth of the Fitness Mobile Market

The popularity of health and fitness application is now growing. According to a national US survey, Health App Use Among US Mobile Phone Owners, 58% of mobile device users had downloaded a health-related mobile app in 2015. As surveys from Rock Health revealed, these results did not depend on the health status of the respondents. As early as 2016, health and fitness applications had only two popularity rivals: news and weather apps (according to Flurry Enter the Matrix: App Retention and Engagement report based on use-per-week and 30-day retention). This is due, largely, to the growing popularity of wearable devices like Android Wear and Apple Watch.

If you do not take into account any pre-installed Android and Apple applications, including Google Fit and Apple Health respectively, the fitness app market hit around 50,000 daily downloads in the United States in 2016 (via SurveyMonkey Intelligence). Fitness applications received almost $31,000 in daily revenue from in-app purchases during the same period.

Fitness Apps in Detail

Modern applications should contain many user-friendly functions that are familiar to users. Fitness apps are no exception. They may differ in specialization and some functions may be missing but, in general, if you are wondering how to create a fitness app, the content of such applications can be described as follows:

  1. Accounts: this is the main feature. Users should be able to store their data and settings, and it's best to be able to do this both on the device and outside of it (for example, in the cloud). This will avoid the risk of losing data.

  2. Social features: the popularity of many applications depends on whether you can share your success with your friends. Also, in the fitness industry, the spirit of competition is very important often — your friend has achieved something, can you do better? Now, social network accounts are a good solution to the data storage problem, being a universal means of registration. So this point is in sync with the first one.

How to Develop a Fitness Application to Help You Get In Shape 2

  1. Different measures: users want to track their calories, weight, height and other parameters - this is of key importance for fitness apps. The application must allow users to set as many measures as possible (and even to create custom measures) — and, of course, the app must be able to show changes.

  2. Tracking activities: one of the main features for fitness apps, this list item is linked to the previous one in terms of implementation. Users may also want to create personal and custom options, in addition to tracking their activities. Walking, running, swimming, cycling, various sports — all of this is just the beginning of a fairly impressive list of options. For many of them, a built-in geolocation and interaction with maps is required. This is not only for users to see and track the territory they’ve covered on a run, for example, but also for more accurate calculations of the number of steps passed, distance travelled, calories burned, and so on. Some of the best solutions in this area are the Tomtom system, and the waze experience.

  3. Wearable device compatibility: as mentioned above, the now growing popularity of fitness applications is associated with the popularity of various wearable devices. The application must be compatible with at least a traditional device for this platform, as a maximum, with a wide range of similar devices on the market. Statistics can help to navigate this. What age group is the application targeted to? What devices do these users prefer (not only the OS but also the model)?

How to Develop a Fitness Application to Help You Get In Shape 3

  1. Synchronization: many users prefer to keep their data on different devices or sync with different applications. For example, they may use Google Fit in addition to your app, so your app should support this kind of synchronization. Cross-platform support can be a great solution, as it does not limit the user to one device of a certain type. The ability to connect accounts from completely different applications has already been mentioned earlier in the Social features section. You can do this, for example, using APIs and SDKs from Google Fit and Apple’s HealthKit. Good solutions in the field of fitness application development are also offered by Jawbone and Withings;

  2. Notifications: it is almost impossible to imagine an application without notifications. They can be annoying (therefore users should be able to turn them off) but, in fitness apps, their informativeness can not be underestimated. There are notifications of achieved goals, burned calories, steps passed, weekly and monthly statistical summaries, and so on. All this data is important for tracking progress.

  3. Other features: these depend on the app type, and can include barcodes or QR-code scanners for food trackers, streaming services for sports, and more. There can also be an entertainment component, some kind of in-app achievements, and so on.

Marketing & Monetization

According to Rock Health’s 2015 study ‘Who is using health apps?’, 73% users downloaded health applications occasionally, 22% after a friend’s recommendation, 16% after a healthcare provider recommendation, and 7% after an insurance company recommendation. Health apps and fitness apps are closely related to drawing conclusions based on this data: advertising in core areas is not enough now. Promoting the fitness app can be facilitated by integration with gyms, as well as interaction with healthcare providers. So, if you want to develop a fitness application, you can include exercises from the course of physiotherapy, for example, according to the doctor's prescription there.

The popularity of fitness apps is determined primarily by the availability and prevalence of the app. A paid application will not be claimed as widely, because there are quite a lot of free ones. Therefore, monetization should be based on other principles:

  1. In-app ads is a classical solution. The main idea here is to carefully work out the layout, type, and amount of advertising, as its abundance and inappropriateness will alienate users easily. It’s necessary to provide a function of paid ad disabling — in the form of a one-time payment or subscription.

  2. Subscriptions are another common solution. We can give access to some special features (more measures, a family account, more tracking types, application customization, etc). Zombies, Run!, Strava and MapMyRun apps use this kind of monetization. The main difficulty is in choosing which basic functionally users will have so that they can evaluate the quality of the application, and are encouraged to purchase the remaining functions. Disabling advertising may also be included in the subscription, or this subscription can be for entertainment purposes only. Users can enjoy all fitness features for free, and the subscription includes additional optional content, including interface customization, for example. For such a model of monetization to work, the application must be of high quality, ensuring users want to pay for it. Alternatively, the company should have other sources of income — like Fitbit and UP who make most of their money from hardware.

  3. Gym-like services is a quite rare and very innovative solution. This includes access to personal trainers, offering the provision of professional advice and recommendations through the app. Fitocracy is an example of an application with such functionality.

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Development process: stages and costs

An average amount of time for development can vary from 2-3 months. This time depends not only on the target platform and application type, but also on the size of the company that is hired for development, the complexity of the job, the availability or absence of ready-made development solutions and so on. Most likely, the cost to build a fitness app will consist of payments over several standard stages.

The fitness app development process can be divided into several stages:

  1. Technical documentation can be developed independently, and you can also pay for the work of a technical writer. The cost per hour of work of such specialists starts from $10, with an estimated working time of around 40 hours.

  2. The design contains UI and UX components. UI designers’ hourly rates start from $16, and UX designers from $18. The study of all aspects is estimated to take around 60 hours.

  3. Development: to create a fitness app, Android developer’s hourly rates start from $12, and iOS developers — from $14. It will take around 350 hours per platform to create an app.

  4. Quality Assurance engineers’ hourly rates start from $10. Testing and checking all aspects of the application will take around 90 hours (and it may take another 50 hours for developers for bug fixing).

  5. Support is optional but may be needed. One hour of Support Technician work costs from $9.

It is also worth considering that the fitness app development cost will include the time of the project manager, at around $20 per hour. All hourly rates are taken from PayScale, and include average rates for Eastern Europe. The total development budget is about $20,000 per application for a single platform.

You can also read: 6 reasons to create a mobile app for your business


To sum it up, in order to create a competitive fitness app, you will have to make a lot of effort to study the market, determine the type and essence of the application, and to hire fitness app developers.

There are many companies offering such services: Applikey, Lets Nurture, Space-O Technologies, Grandapps, Hidden Brains, Echo Innovate IT, Salentro Technologies, and others. When choosing your provider, it is worthwhile to focus on the portfolio of the company (for example, the presence of projects related to health and fitness — is this company a fitness app development company?), reviews, deadlines, and cost of services.

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Our company has already developed the application WellJo, and has an excellent reputation in the mobile application development market. This company specializes in iOS and Android mobile app development, including design, quality assurance, and, of course, project management — so all the necessary development stages are covered. If you are looking for fitness app developers for hire Applikey will be one of the best decisions you ever make!

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