How to Build a Mobile Fitness App for Gym Workouts

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Anastasia Osypenko
Market Researcher

In previous posts, we’ve reviewed the most popular fitness applications. These serve an array of purposes from tracking exercise plans to practising mindfulness. A distinctive part of fitness apps is providing workouts that are designed for both home and gym.

So far we’ve examined fitness apps for use at home. With that in mind, in this article we’ll discover which fitness mobile apps people use at the gym and look at how to make a useful one.

One of the prejudices people hold against gyms is the assumption that they earn money not on customers who exercise but on those who don’t. Many people end up paying for the gym even though they hardly visit the facility. It seems people need more encouragement to actually follow their workout schedule.

What gym owners want is customer satisfaction, which creates a high retention level and a positive brand image. With a mobile app that informs, sends reminders, and spreads a positive message, gyms can enhance their service and encourage customers to keep coming in.

Many of the apps on the market only partially solve the challenges gym owners face. Programs are designed for finding the nearest facility or a friend to exercise with, while others provide training plans that involve gym equipment. But what else is a mobile app capable of doing?

You can build a workout app as a customised solution for a particular facility, which can eliminate management hurdles and bring customer attention to the values gyms seek.

Apps for Finding a Gym

Statistics show that 86 per cent of people look to online reviews while choosing a business or service to trust. Online reputation is important to gyms as well. ‘Near me’ searches are on the rise, including those for finding fitness classes and gyms.

Apps that help users find the nearest gym and read reviews about it can be quite profitable. These programs solve a problem for users and simultaneously have benefits for gyms; their brand recognition is boosted through online reviews and check-ins.

If you want to make this kind of app rather than build a workout plan app, you’ll need a powerful map with comprehensive navigation features.

Mindbody is a popular example of a location-based app which connects users to wellness services. Launched in 2015, it allows people to search for and book fitness classes within the app. In 2017, Mindbody had more than 500 million successful appointment bookings. Now, they help schedule and manage fitness and beauty services to 35 million people from 130 different countries.

Apps for Finding a Gym Buddy

Gym anxiety, resulting from the fear of going to the gym alone, is shockingly common. People ask how to gain courage to overcome this dilemma, often looking for peer support among communities in top workout apps.

Social comparison is proven to boost workout results because having someone fitter around works as additional motivation. But most people look for gym buddies just to make fitness more enjoyable.

Gym BuddyGymder, and WellSquad are all workout pal apps which pair people up with gym buddies. WellSquad offers this opportunity for free and features a paid option called Squad Leaders to connect users with instructors or dietitians. The Trainerize app helps users link up with personal trainers.

Such gym-related programs are based on preexisting business models and are often dubbed things like ‘iTunes for fitness’ or ‘Tinder for fitness’ with a reference to another popular app.


Custom Workout Apps for Gyms

A number of fitness apps are dedicated to providing workout plans designed for home and gym. Guided fitness, which these programs offer, is similar to human coaching or group sessions but offers more flexibility. No wonder many fitness enthusiasts are totally reliant on their phone trainers.

The main battle between these apps is centred on personalisation. Fitness enthusiasts want the best app to create their own workouts based on their preferences and individual parameters. People are often looking for free apps with gym workout plans but if they need personalised sessions, no app is free. Fitbit CoachApptivJefit, and Nike+ Training Club are only a few examples of the best creator workout apps.

Learn how to create a workout app from successful companies. Some of the fitness apps we described in this article offer paid customisable workout plans, which is the most obvious way to monetize fitness services. There also can be a solution for specific exercises, for example, a plank app.

Apps for Trainers

Professional trainers often suffer from scheduling issues and the high fee percentage taken by gyms. Moreover, the challenge of selling their services may also come with the job when gyms can’t guarantee steady work or when a trainer decides to run their own business.

Developing apps that connecting people with individual professionals seems to be a very promising area. It’s a win-win for trainers and customers: the former will be freed from management headaches while the latter will have a coach not randomly selected by their gym but matched according to their preferences, as specified in the app.

For example, Coach Pro helps trainers manage their business by tracking client progress, sending them notes, and scheduling appointments. The Gymnut app allows users to follow trainers they like and purchase their workout videos.

A mobile fitness application called Future represents an interesting case. This elite digital workout service costs $150 per month, which is probably the highest fee imaginable for an app. What Future sells is the most personalised workouts with constant support from trainers.

After signing up, a user will have a friendly chat with their matched trainer to discuss a schedule and preferences. Then, a person gets a starter kit which includes an Apple Watch, in case they didn’t have one, and receives personalised daily routines with video instructions, audio cues, and voice clips each week. A trainer will check in with each client throughout the day, analysing the data from Apple Watch.

It’s interesting to question whether this kind of communication with trainers will become widespread soon. All the best daily workout apps are competing to provide the most efficient service. We can expect apps for trainers to integrate constant trainer-client communication in the next few years. People look for something more than an app to create a workout routine or an app to make a workout plan: they need someone to keep them on the right track.

Gym Mobile Apps and Essential Features

Half of all new gym members quit within six months, while 80 per cent of people who purchase a yearly subscription quit twice as fast. There are plenty of behavioural explanations behind these statistics but gyms can improve their retention by communicating with customers via an app. Being in contact with clients means gyms can inform customers about various training plans and features and give them a sense of control over their schedule and progress.

An app can be a suitable tool for any size of fitness business, from a small studio to a large gym chain. There are actually many software companies who offer customisable software, for instance, Mindbody and Perfect Gym. Developing solutions for fitness businesses is on the rise because gyms need digital help managing memberships and gathering customer statistics.

Let’s see which features should be included in a fitness application for a gym.

Class Schedule

The number-one feature of branded gym applications is the ability to book classes. Users should be able to see the schedule and information about the type of workout (or other activity if for a yoga or dance studio), available trainers, and location. There should be a personal profile with submitted bookings and the ability to manage them.

Promotional notifications can be based on user bookings in gym calendars. Businesses can promote new classes if they are similar to what people are already interested in. They can also encourage customers to visit special events to try new activities.


Gyms can have universal month- and year-long memberships, as well as a variable system of different membership plans. In the latter case, an app should provide a screen with information regarding available memberships, the prices, and benefits. It’s also very convenient to provide payment options within the app. Think thoroughly about how to present memberships in your workout app design: paid options should look engaging and fun.

Social Features

Creating a community around the app is essential. When users can share their stories and photos, it builds trust among potential customers. The fear of being intimidated or judged stops many people from visiting the gym. Which is why it’s a good idea for any fitness app to feature not only images of athletes with perfect bodies but also of regular customers. Social features should also include the option to invite a friend to the same session and to share fitness progress via social media.

Loyalty Points

To keep customers loyal and interested, gyms can design challenges and give reward points for participating in them. Rewards can be given for sharing a personal workout video or inviting friends to a session, for example. Gyms also can give loyalty points for every attended session to keep customers constantly motivated.

Workout Videos

Even if the purpose of an app is to encourage people to visit the gym and not just repeat pre-recorded exercises at home, it would be helpful to include some trainer-produced workout videos. Videos show potential customers which fitness plans are available and introduce professionals so people can choose the one they like most.

Gym Apps for Custom Workouts

Custom workout apps for gyms aren’t developed very much. Which is strange as workouts crafted to a specific gym are tailored to a particular space and set of equipment. There already are workout creator apps designed for a certain type of training, be it fat burning, endurance, or stretching, maybe more custom gym solutions which provide workout plans based on a given facility’s features will appear. Guided workouts suitable for a gym might be a great additional feature in a gym application.

If you want to build a fitness app for gyms, there are several areas of development you can choose from. You can build a platform for many fitness businesses by focusing on location-based recommendations or the connection between customers and trainers. Or you can create your own workout plan app for enhancing the experience at one particular gym.

At MadAppGang we made a mobile app called SmartRun, which encourages healthy running, that is also compatible with Apple Watch. If you’re looking for developers with expertise in fitness, you know who to contact, drop us a line today to find out how we can help.

10 September 2019