How to Develop a Fitness App

The fitness app market is set to hit $14.7 billion in value by 2026. The market is currently seeing a Cumulative Annual Growth Rate of 23%. Although there are quite some big players in the market, there is still room for competitors to enter the market with a different value proposition. Customers in the market are open to a subscription model if they feel that they are getting premium features from an app. The development costs for a fitness app can be quite steep given the advanced features now present in the most popular apps. If you are planning to develop a fitness app for the mass market, here are a few basic steps you will follow.

Researching the Fitness App Market

The fitness market is filled with apps that offer different value points for users. Activity apps monitor all the physical activity a user engages in during the day and aggregates it. It can track progress over time and generate reports. The user can see improvements made in lengths of physical activity, body measurements and so on.

There are diet and nutrition apps to help users monitor their food habits. Users can use such apps to monitor calorie intake as they try to hit weight loss or weight gain goals. The apps can help users develop meal plans and grocery shopping lists so that they add variety to their healthy diets.

Finally, there are workout apps, mostly developed by trainers. These apps have a variety of curated workouts that a user can access from anywhere. The app acts as a personal trainer and helps users progress over time to longer and more complex workouts.

What’s the Goal of Market Research?

The goal of market research is to help decide the kind of fitness app you’d like to develop. For instance, if you want to develop a diet and nutrition app, you must conduct an analysis of the existing solutions in the market. Make a list of at least a dozen of such apps that are in the market. On a spreadsheet, list their monetization model, their user numbers on both Android and iOS and average ratings. Read through their reviews and find what users like most for each app and what they complain most about. This analysis will help you decide what gap your app will seek to fill in the market.

An example of an area where apps compete is the level of integration with other apps, especially social ones. While some apps try to build a community of fitness enthusiasts within the app’s ecosystem, others make it easy to share activities with people away from the app.

Minimum Viable Product

The product of your market research will be a list of your proposed app’s main features and business case. What should your app offer to users? Which monetization model will you use? What is the persona of your target audience?

At this stage, you can engage a business analyst to help review your proposal and see whether your idea can withstand scrutiny from a business expert. Such analysis is important before committing money into the development phase. Internal enthusiasm about a project can often lead to confirmation bias whereby you look just for evidence that suggests your idea will work. Getting an external party to review helps provide a more balanced analysis of the idea.

Hiring a Development Team

The developer costs will form the bulk of the app’s development budget. Developer costs vary with the location of the development team. Software engineers in North America charge upwards of $100 per hour, while Asian developers can charge four times less. However, you must be careful about hiring an experienced team. You might prefer hiring an external project manager to help recruit the team as well as track the progress.

Inception Phase

Once the team is in place, the first step of development will be determining the scope of work in detail. This will help develop a project roadmap and an expected date of completion. At this point, you will be able to estimate the development budget based on hours of work.

A technical writer will put down the project’s scope of work against which the work will be reviewed upon completion. This includes how each page should look and work.

Design and Coding

Your business analyst should help prepare the technical documentation to hand to the project team with the scope of work well recorded. The development team will begin with developing UI/UX wireframes for review. This could take several weeks up to a month to complete. Wireframing is important to ensure that the UI/UX is consistent with the brand’s colors and fonts. Once these are ready, the coding can begin.

The coding involves the development of the app’s frontend as well as backend. The backend carries the functionalities of the app including user logins, payments processing, geolocation tracking, notifications and more. This could take months although there should be weekly or check-ins with the project manager to give updates on development progress.

Testing and Debugging your Fitness App

A fitness app is complex owing to the numerous features it normally has. The testing phase is thus important and could take several weeks. Performance testing is necessary to ensure the app does not drain battery inefficiently across the various devices users will install it. The app should also pass a memory analysis test so that it does not crash by being unable to clear heap memory. Security vulnerability tests are also necessary to ensure the app can withstand brute force attacks and that there is no data leakage. Functional testing of the app checks whether all features are working correctly across all hardware devices where the app might be used. The app should be able to do all that it should, but it should not do what it is not designed to do.

Publicity, Reviews, and Marketing

It’s important to have a marketing plan for your fitness app. One way to do this is to invite opinion leaders in the fitness app to test the app before launch. You should also have a website from where people can visit and read up on expected app features and pricing. You can also share thoughts that informed the development process, including the gap it seeks to fall.

App Store Listing and Categorization

Publishing your app in various stores is an intricate process that should be approached carefully. You should include proper descriptions, categorization, and screenshots when submitting it for publishing. Proper information is important for App Store Optimization to enable users to find your app easily. Apple Store has a long review process before approving the app for publishing. Account for this in time planning.

Once the app is available for download, make sure to have download links available everywhere, including on your social media handles and your website’s landing page.


Developing a fitness app should be the result of deep research and identification of a gap to fill in the market. The development should begin only after a business case for your app has been justified by an analyst. You must pick the right development team based on your budget but also their experience. An external project manager might help track the project progress better than you can internally. Once the coding is done, the app must be tested for both performance and functionality. It’s important to have an elaborate roadmap of the publishing and marketing process for the app.

If would like assistance in developing an app for your business, check out NS804. We’ve partnered with clients for over 6 years to help them make the best development decisions for their businesses.

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