How To Develop The Best Fitness Application

A real fitness boom exploded in 2015 when Apple Watch first came out. Granted, there were other fitness trackers even before that, but this one has created a religion out of the sport and health care, adding gamification elements to stimulate the formation of the habit.

Mobile development industry didn’t stay out of this trend, of course, and another boom was triggered: flourishing of fitness app development that wouldn’t only be used with phones, but also with wearable fitness trackers.

Considering the number of connected wearable devices, we can expect the market to continually grow. Check out the statistics below:

Number of Connected Wearable Devices 2017

[Source]

It’s safe to say that consumers enjoy the ability to wear a device to monitor food, exercise levels, heart rate, and other vital signs, so we come to our main question:

How to make a fitness app?

According to the report by Grand View Research, Inc., the global mHealth market is growing at CAGR of 44.2% and is expected to reach 111.8 billion US dollars by 2025.

The demand, as we see, is growing from year to year, thus a fitness app could be a good idea for a startup. Unless you have your own in-house team, you need fitness app developers for hire - and we can help you out with the basic tips and tricks on how to make that step.

If you have never outsourced fitness app development or any other kind of software development before, here are a few aspects we’ll talk about in this article:

  • Types of fitness apps
  • Features that should be included in a fitness app
  • Fitness app development cost
  • How to hire fitness app developers

Types of fitness apps

Fitness apps provide their users with different features: results tracking, motivation not to stop, socializing, and even education on the topic. It’s like having a personal coach in a pocket affordable for everybody. Sounds groovy, isn’t it?

But before we head straight, let’s define the direction.

The performance features divide the fit apps into three types of the healthcare mobile apps:

  • Activity tracking apps
  • Diet and nutrition apps
  • Workout and exercise apps

Workout and fitness apps have almost 75% of the session share by app types among all health and fitness apps, according to statistics from eMarketer:

Health and Fitness App Usage session share worldwide 2017

[Source]

Let’s have a closer look at each of them.

Activity tracking apps

The apps in this category can track a user’s physical activity - pretty much everything you’ve done during the day. Activity tracking apps collect users’ information about the number of steps taken, stairs climbed, hours slept, distance and speed run, and calories burned.

User data is displayed on the app screen and the app is usually capable to build charts, save routes on the map, and show user’s progress.

To make the long story short, we’ve created a list of basic functions that a good activity tracking app should possess:

Creating User’s Account

A personal account is absolutely necessary for a fitness app. It provides users with an opportunity to switch between numerous devices and not be afraid the data might get lost. Also, for tracking of the personal goals and achievements, a personal account is a convenient thing to have.

Creating a personal account for a fitness app

Tracking User Activity

Connecting your app to the smartphone’s sensors to implement tracking function is made simple using Apple’s HealthKit and Google Fit. They both provide APIs to access the health and fitness data collected on their platforms. Google and Apple have created an ecosystem which acts as a hub for consolidating data from any activity tracker and fitness application.

Both HealthKit and Google Fit store and manage the following data:

  • Body measurements/weight history
  • Number of steps/distance traveled
  • Calories burned
  • Favorite types of activity/sports
  • Exercise duration
  • Heartbeat rate

Social Sharing

While we all understand the need to take care of our bodies and the benefits of it, let’s be honest: it’s not always fun to go work out when you would much rather watch an episode of your favorite TV show, right? Well, humans are social animals and this is one of the traits that can help us keep on reaching our fitness goals.

To make a successful tracking app, you should include the social share feature. Users love to share their results with friends because it helps to be motivated and encourages new achievements.

Read also: How To Develop a Social Media App?

Another good idea is to integrate a user playlist into an app, as RunKeeper has done, for example. We all have certain tunes that make us want to move.

Integrating Geolocation

Seeing how many kilometers you’ve run, walked, or cycled by looking at the map gives you a huge boost of motivation and satisfaction. Truth be told, geolocation is one of the main ingredients of a good fitness tracking app (unless it’s an app for exercises that don’t require moving around much.)

See also: How To Build a Mobile App With Geolocation

Maps and geolocation feature for a fitness application

Integration of wearable devices’ data

Considering the booming popularity of wearable devices, as we have seen at the beginning of this article, you shouldn’t ignore the integration of your mobile app with devices such as Fitbit, Garmin, Nike+, Apple Watch, and others.

To make a successful tracking app and extend its capabilities, you should provide the app’s compatibility with as many wearable devices as is cost-efficient and possible. (Even dominating brands in the health and fitness market make their apps capable of handling data from competing activity trackers.)

To detect and monitor pulse, blood pressure, and other physiological parameters, you can’t simply use a smartphone for that, but rather you’d need to enable data flow from a fitness tracking device via Bluetooth connection.

Here are some useful tools that help developers create a fitness app with wearables integration:

  • The Garmin platform offers tools to build an app for Garmin wearable devices.
  • The Fitbit API allows any fitness app development company to interact with Fitbit data in its’ own apps.
  • Jawbone UP open-source platform gives you a set of APIs and SDKs to develop a fitness application, as well as to connect hardware products to the platform.

Push notifications

Push notifications are essential for fit application. In-app notifications remind users about workouts and motivate them continuously. They can be set in connection with a workout plan or personal goals and notify users about the upcoming workout.

Diet and nutrition apps

Diet and nutrition apps help users monitor their food habits, count a number of calories taken/burned, control water balance, body weight, and so forth.

With a vast range of diet applications, users can set personal goals, create grocery lists, and even collect recipes. They could also possess some user-engaging features or gamification elements, scoreboards or slimming competition, for instance.

Diet and nutrition apps can be also considered as activity tracking apps because they track your nutrition habits. The difference is that they have a more specific functionality.

On the whole, users install diet app in purpose to stick to the diet, track calories and control water and coffee intake.

To be completely successful your nutrition and diet app should provide users with detailed and comprehensive daily stats. Most importantly, an app should push users towards their goals.

Check out the list of basic functions that should be included in diet and nutrition apps:

Creating an account with personal data

Nutrition apps are aimed to help users achieve their personal goals including healthy eating, losing weight, or even gaining weight.

Thus, it’s important to create a profile with personal data, where users can enter and update their physical characteristics such as current weight, height, and age.

Push notifications

Push notifications in nutrition and diet apps are aimed at the same goal as the notifications in the activity tracking apps acting as calls to action, encouraging the users to get off the couch and burn some calories to achieve their objectives.

Read also: How to Build a Bulletproof Push Notification Strategy

Socialization

Allow your users to connect with each other, share their results and they will be happy to tell the world about your app.

Shopping list

Watching one’s nutrition requires paying attention to the food we consume. One of the biggest challenges, however, is buying all the food you need (and not buying the food that would become a barrier in your path to your ideal body). Therefore, one of the useful features for nutrition app would be the ability to create shopping lists from the recipes available, therefore overcoming the temptation to buy “that one cookie… and a pizza slice… and chips… and...”

You can make the process of entering data easier for the user by building a database with a dictionary within your app, so users can quickly add shopping items to their list.

Barcode scanner

Barcode scanning simplifies the procedure of logging food, therefore it is another useful feature. For example, Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal mobile app has this feature.

UnderArmour MyFitnessPal

Food Logging

To keep track of the calories eaten per day as well as water drunk, there should be an option to log the food. Considering the fact that the world is getting smaller each day and the age of true globalization is upon us, it is also smart to allow various measuring systems to be used - for example, metric as well as the standard US.

Colorful visualizations and microinteractions can also be powerful motivators for this task.

Workout or exercise apps

The list of applications in the workout/exercise category is huge both for the Android as well as iOS. iOS has their own built-in Activity app, MapMyFitness, Nike+ Training Club, Fitbit Coach, Aaptiv, and thousands more.

Workout applications provide a user with a set of exercises and demonstrate how they should be performed.

Workout application gives you a personal fitness trainer in your smartphone. You can take it everywhere and exercise with that trainer wherever you want. Sometimes you can even choose a coach by name and level of physical training, as it is done in Abs Workout app.

The basic features of a workout mobile app:

  • Create an account
  • Set up push notifications
  • Set personal targets

As an additional feature, you can also allow your users to create their own workout plans. Usually, a standard workout consists of the warm-up, a set of active exercises, and cool-down.

The exercises can be shown in different formats: text, illustrations, 3D models, and videos. Modern workout apps usually tend to use a combination of text and video to deliver a better result. Some newer ones - like Flex - use streaming live or on-demand videos to make the user feel as if s/he is at the gym.

How much does it cost to develop a fitness app

It is quite hard to tell the accurate price for fitness app development without clear terms of references. The cost to build a fitness app depends on app’s type and its complexity. However, we can talk about a rough estimate for a fitness app.

The main thing you have to know: the total cost to make a fitness app depends on the time and the number of developers involved in the project.

An average amount of time of actual fitness app development (without the inception phase) starts from 4 months.

However, project timing depends on numerous factors, including the platforms targeted (iOS and/or Android), app’s features, and the type of the app.

Here are the common development stages and time needed to complete it (based on the averages, again):

Technical documentation

A technical writer is a person who prepares the product’s technical specifications based on the client’s requirements. It includes use cases, platforms, and all other required information for developers to start working out the solutions.

Based on the requirements, it starts at 80 hours per project. Business Analyst / Tech Writer rates start at $25/hour.

Design

Our design team needs around two months (160 hours) to create an outstanding design for the fitness app - both UX as well as UI parts. Again, this greatly depends on the requirements - perhaps you would need standard features, but you might also want some custom microinteractions.

The hourly rate of a UI/UX designer starts at $25.

Development

If you are launching an app for Android and iOS, you would need at least three developers - iOS and Android mobile app developers as well as a backend developer.

On average, it takes about 6 months or 960 hours of development (if you want a good feature-rich app), therefore the cost can be estimated according to the following rates:

  • Android Developer: $35+/hour
  • iOS Developer: $35+/hour
  • Backend Developer: $35+/hour

Backend development for a mobile app usually takes less time than actual mobile development, therefore you’d need a backend developer for around 640 hours (4 months).

Project Management

PM is your to-go person. S/he is needed to set the tasks’ priority, managing the project in general, and control adherence to the budget, quality, and deadlines.

We provide our clients with a personal Project Manager who will take care of communicating the project requirements to the team as well as to the client.

If we’re calculating the Project Manager’s role for a 6-month project, his/her involvement would take around 240 hours with the hourly rate starts at $25/hour.

Quality Assurance

Testing and bug fixing takes up another chunk of the development time. Besides checking the code for bugs, QA engineers test the overall user experience of the project and whether the features work as they are expected to.

The hourly rate for QA specialists starts at $25 and during a 6-month project, they would be involved around 288 hours.

Takeaway

Creating a fitness app can appear to be quite a challenging task. But now that you know the process, we hope it would be easier for you to estimate your idea.

Few things to summarize:

  • Your fitness app should have basic features such as personal account, setting goals, actual activity tracking, and social elements.
  • The app can offer custom workout plans creation feature.
  • It’s a good idea to collaborate with as many wearable producers as possible (and cost-efficient)
  • People love competing or comparing themselves to others - give them this opportunity.
  • To be successful, your app should have gamification features so that people are motivated to use your app and share it with their friends. (Think of all kinds of challenges and badges RunKeeper or Nike+ has.)

Finally, we recommend starting such an ambitious project as a fitness app by creating an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This approach helps you to save money and test out the idea without spending vast resources and efforts.

Would you like to develop your own fitness app?

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