Thinking about developing a fitness app? That’s understandable as the demand for health and fitness apps is higher than ever: in 2020, the market was estimated to be worth over $5.5 billion, and this is expected to double within a few years.
At the same time, high demand leads to a competitive market place. You want your fitness app to stand out from the other applications released every month and be profitable. To do that, it needs to perform well, address a specific user need, and offer value to users, which all come at a cost.
Before you start making a product, it’s important to understand the cost of developing a fitness app so you can evaluate your budget and weigh up the risk.
In this article, we cover key factors that contribute to the costs of fitness app development and review strategies to monetize your application. Since the field is quite varied, let’s take a closer look at the types of fitness apps out there.
Universal fitness apps that are jam-packed with features are great, but broad functionality heavily influences development costs. As such, most applications in this niche have a specific focus. Apps for working out and apps that track diet plans or macro are vastly different, but they’re all part of the fitness app market.
Users turn to workout apps to lose weight, increase muscle bulk, craft an exercise routine, and more. There are subtypes too; some workout apps are dedicated to at-home exercise while others are created specifically for gym workouts. Other apps in the fitness app market offer guided training with a coach.
Although different, all workout apps have common features: exercises, long-term workout plans, goal-setting, and notifications for users who want reminders to exercise.
Example of Nike Training Club functionality
Nike’s Training Club is one of the most comprehensive, inclusive apps on the market. As such, examining its functionalities is helpful when you develop a fitness app. It offers programs for any level of difficulty and equipment, making it suitable for both at-home and gym sessions. The app supports ‘traditional’ workouts, yoga, boxing, and other activities. In addition, it lets users focus on specific parts of their bodies while training.
Such apps track how many steps a user takes, how many miles or kilometres they ran and cycled, or how effective their swimming and sport activities are. Tracking apps usually work with wearables such as Apple Watch or fitness devices on Android (such as Galaxy Watch and Mi Band). However, these applications can also track distances via smartphones with geolocation services enabled.
Let's take Strava and MadAppGang's own project, SmartRun, as examples.
Example of Strava functionality
Strava’s key features are recording running and cycling activities while suggesting new routes for users to explore. It also tracks varied activities from swimming, training, and yoga to crossfit, kayaking, and surfing. The app includes social media integration so users can connect with friends, and it allows them to join clubs of interest. With the help of wearables plus the HealthKit and Google Fit frameworks, Strava organises biometric data in the app and generates statistics for users.
Example of SmartRun functionality
MadAppGang developed SmartRun, an iOS running app that focuses on heart rate tracking and training zones. Most apps for running work on a performance and kilometres basis, but SmartRun was specifically designed to help users improve their cardiovascular system’s health. The app shows how the heart rate changes during running sessions and uses artificial intelligence to create personalised training programs.
These apps help users follow a diet and track calorie and nutrient intake. Diet apps can also provide meal inspiration and healthy recipes. Most often, nutrition apps are used for weight loss as they provide stats on calories, macros, and deficits, but some users turn to these apps just to eat healthier and follow a balanced diet.
If you’re interested in diet app development, check our how to build a weight loss app guide.
Example of MyFitnessPal functionality
MyFitnessPal allows users to log meals each day to count their calorie intake and macros. The app serves as a database with 14 million foods to track. A user can scan a meal with their smartphone’s camera to avoid searching manually. For weight loss, the app offers calorie goal setting, provides recipes, and offers different diet programs. What’s more, users can log workouts and link the app to their phones’ step tracker.
Mindfulness has been a huge trend for several years now, and the number of dedicated apps serving the market is proof of mindfulness’ popularity. Mental health and wellness apps can be yoga and meditation apps, apps for breathing, or mood trackers. Users turn to these apps to improve their mental health and overall well-being by combating stress.
Example of Calm functionality
Calm teaches users to meditate. It has different 7-day, 14-day, and longer guided meditation programs for fighting anxiety, reducing negative thoughts, and becoming happier. The duration of meditation sessions ranges from 3 minutes to 25 minutes, so users have a choice based on their schedules. Additionally, Calm helps users improve their sleep with its music and ‘sleep stories’ features where different coaches and famous people including Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey read bedtime stories.
Example of Down Dog functionality
Down Dog is one of the most popular yoga apps available. The application allows users to customise their practice by setting their preparation level, preferred yoga style, session duration, and even their coach (the app offers six yoga teachers). Users can download video lessons for offline practice and synchronise their progress across several devices. Apart from improving overall health, Down Dog specialises in relieving back pain.
These apps are all market leaders in their various niches, and one reason why they lead the pack is their excellent design and UX.
In the coming years, the global fitness app market will grow by 21% annually. For health and fitness app developers, this means really tough competition. What’s more, users tend to download the most common fitness apps instead of niche products.
So how do you develop a fitness app that people actually use? You need to be really precise about your UX design in order to draw users. The top players above have great designs, intelligent functionality, and user-friendly interfaces that are intuitive and easy to navigate.
For more on the topic, read our article on examples of the best fitness app designs. It explains the difference between good and bad decisions in UX design and reviews typical mistakes in fitness app development.
Defining fitness app costs is quite complicated because prices vary wildly. Let’s just say that a decent minimum viable product (MVP) — an early version of an app with limited features such as workout guidance and basic monitoring via an HRM device — can cost around $30,000 to $50,000.
If you want to develop a fitness app with a wide range of functionality such as full-stat analytics, integration with other services, or social media communities within the app, prepare to spend up to $300,000 on the full project.
The final price is usually estimated by the development company you choose. Nevertheless, there are price-forming factors you can evaluate before you find your developers:
We’ll discuss each of the points above, but first, let’s dive into some of the features a fitness app must contain.
Login and personal profile creation
Users need to sign up in your app to create a personal profile. This feature is essential as profiles contain user data such as weight, height, and other metrics, plus the goals they want to achieve with the app’s help. Allow logins via Gmail or social media profiles so the authentication process is faster and easier.
Workout apps wouldn’t be workout apps if they didn’t offer different exercises or exercise programs for users to choose from. You can make an interactive and easy-to-navigate menu where users can customise workouts, choose from a range of training programs, and set session lengths. After setting their preferences, users can access video lessons or guided training that meets their needs. Workouts might include yoga, strength training, exercises for gym equipment, and bodybuilding. lesson or a guided training to their taste. Different types of workouts might include yoga, strength lessons, exercises for gym and bodybuilding.
If you build an activity tracking app, GPS is the number-one feature since it powers the app’s key function. For workout apps and other fitness apps, geolocation services integration helps users connect to friends nearby or search for gym locations.
This feature tracks the amount of steps, kilometres run, effectiveness of exercises, and other activities users undertake. In a dedicated app, this feature should be as interactive as possible and constantly update the user’s stats. Users check often, so try to provide full stats for analysing activities and make it easy to use and navigate.
Functionality for diet apps
In a diet and nutrition app, there must be a calorie counter with a full foods database so users can log meals and set weight-loss goals. Additionally, providing diet plans is crucial if you want to offer users something more than just a calorie tracker. Different recipes to try, weekly recommendations, or collaborations with nutritiologists and dietologists will help you vary the functionality of an app.
Gamification in fitness app development services can make users stick to the app you create. With the help of gamification, you make your app interactive and fun, and users tend to spend more time within an app if it has game-like elements. These include storytelling, earning bonuses for regular training or sticking to a certain schedule, and reward systems with badges.
Notifications are part of any app, but they’re crucial in fitness app development for a good reason: a fitness app must remind users to exercise regularly or stick to their eating plan. Push notifications can also be motivational messages for those who struggle with workout routines.
For more insights into key fitness app features, visit our blog post on how to build a fitness app.
For some, it might come as a surprise, but any app development requires more than just front-end and backend developers. Mobile app development involves:
The final cost of an app largely depends on how much each of the specialists charge per hour. Many businesses and startups have discovered that it’s far more financially advantageous to outsource to a dedicated team instead of hiring in-house developers. A good development company can estimate the cost of your fitness app idea and knows how to minimise expenses.
You can learn more on the topic in our article: How the costs of app development are calculated.
Apps for Android and iOS, the two major platforms, require different code and programming languages. Android apps are developed with the Java and Kotlin programming languages while iOS apps are written with Swift and Objective-C. This is why native app development is more expensive than cross-platform. Basically, developers need to create two separate apps.
Cross-platform (hybrid) apps are made with the help of special platforms which let an app share the same code and work on both operating systems. This is the faster and cheaper solution, and it’s great for MVPs. Nonetheless, if you want to include varying functionality and heavy features, you need native development. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a sluggish, bug-prone application.
Now you have a rough understanding of what’s involved when you develop a fitness app and the costs, what about monetization strategies? Since app building isn’t cheap, finding strategies to commercialise the app is essential.
Users can download most fitness apps for free but with limited functionality, upgrading to the pro version, however, opens all the features. This is the most effective monetization model, but you need to offer a trial period so users can road-test the features and be convinced these are worth the investment.
If you don’t want to make basic and pro versions of an app, and want to keep your app free so new users join, you can opt for in-app purchases. These can be special workout programs, extra training videos, some exclusive features, or guided lessons. Offer something enticing that users will pay for and you’re on the road to success.
You can monetize your app in traditional ways such as advertising and pay per download. However, caution is recommended with these strategies. If you have advertisements in your app, you need to make sure these aren’t annoying and don’t distract users from training. Pay per download models require more effort with marketing and PR beforehand.
With high competition in the fitness app market, you need to make sure your app has impeccable design and great functionality so it draws users. Today, your investment into fitness app development must be as well thought out as possible so the cost pays off. That all said, there is still plenty of space for new fitness apps to make their mark on the scene, and make their owners some serious cash flow.
It’s wise to take a smart approach to the development process and hire an experienced development team that knows the fitness market. At MadAppGang, we’re experts at building fitness apps, so get in touch if you have an idea that will make an impact on the market.