How to Create a Workout App: Detailed Guide

29 min read
How to create a workout application: detailed guide (business and tech)

 In 2019, almost 68.7 million of Americans have tried fitness tracking applications. It is forecasted that in 2022, there will be 86.3 million users of health or fitness apps in the United States.

The development of such apps is a reasonable step since the market will continue to grow in the future. If you are wondering how to create a workout app, you have come to the right place. In this article we are going to overview the process to create a fitness app and cover the following topics:

  • custom workout app market state in 2020
  • types of fitness apps on the hype
  • basic and flagship features to build a fitness app
  • how to create a fitness app and make money
  • step-by-step guide to create a fitness app
  • fitness mobile apps development cost

It’s time to take a deeper look at each point. Let’s dive in!

What makes a fitness app successful?


In July 2021, Planet Fitness Workouts was the most-downloaded health and fitness app in the Google Play Store in the United States. The app generated almost 627.8 thousand downloads from Android users. Headspace was the second-most popular app with approximately 461.6 thousand downloads from U.S. users.

Statistics show the top health and fitness apps on the Google Play Store in the US in July 2021 by downloads.

chart created with amCharts | amCharts

The global laboratory information management system is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 26.2% during 2020-2026. In 2026, the global workout app market will be estimated at $15.96 billion. If you are wondering how to create a workout app and whether it is worth it, the number indicates a possible value for your business.

According to Statista, global online revenue generated by the fitness app market will reach 3,567.7 million U.S. dollars in 2024. Fitness wearables will generate a revenue of 17,863.9 million during the same period.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, user behavior changed once and for all. Without the ability to visit fitness centers and jogging, many people started using workout apps to stay fit and healthy.

Fitness company Peloton saw a spike in its stock of 13% after the start of coronavirus pandemic.

The demand for such applications will only continue to grow over the next few years. Thus, it might be a good idea to create a fitness app now to reap the benefits in the near future.

Fitness applications: which are and which are the most popular today.

The first step in deciding how to create a workout app is to determine which type of custom workout app you are going to build.
There are a few distinctive types of such applications that are the most popular today. Let’s take a look at each of them.

  • Activity tracking apps

This type is the most popular among users. Such fitness tracking applications allow monitoring everything a user does during a day. They collect data on the number of steps taken, distance covered, number of stairs climbed, speed run, hours slept and provide insight into the number of calories burned.

Activity trackers can be of different types, including running, cycling, and simple activity applications. Running and cycling apps often rely on GPS information that allows them to accurately track covered distances, determine speed, etc.

Such apps usually present information in charts, allow to save routes on the map, show user’s progress, and to compare it with historical records.

A vivid example of such applications is Healthcare by Apple, which presents information in vivid charts.

  • Dieting and nutrition apps

Almost 18% of females and 10% of male US users are actively using applications to track their diet and nutrition. Depending on personal goals, users can rely on such applications to lose or gain weight, control their healthy eating habits, monitor the consumption of calories, and much more.

Examples of such applications are numerous and include such famous names as Lifesum, YouAte, Yummly, etc.

  • Workout apps

If you are wondering how to create a workout app, you are probably the most interested in this type of application. A workout application is like a personal trainer inside your smartphone. For the most part, such applications allow you to get personal training sessions in real-time with the coaches you choose.

In other cases, they allow users to create workout plans based on personal goals, preferences, physical conditions, etc. After users answer questions and provide information on their weight, height, and health conditions, they are presented with a workout plan.

Applications of this type are represented by such names as Fitbit Coach, Adidas Training and Running, Nike Training Club, and many others.

Personal Workout Applications
  • High-intensity interval training apps

Today, it makes a lot of sense to create a fitness app of this type since such applications are very popular among busy users. They offer short training workouts that last for ~10 minutes. Because of high-intensity exercises, users spend a lot of energy and burn calories over a short time.

The first thing to remember if you want to know how to create a workout app is that such exercises require a certain level of physical conditions from users and you need to remember about this during development.

Note: It is important to mention in your app that high-intensity training can be dangerous for some people so it is better to first consult with a doctor.

  • Personal trainer or studio app

Some personal trainers and training studios have their own custom workout apps. You can build a fitness app of this type with different features. A possible set of functionalities can be very diverse, like features that allow you to choose a trainer, look up their schedules, find free time to book training sessions.

If you want to know how to create a workout app of this type and make it successful, you might need to consider the addition of news feed with useful information. This feature will help with user engagement and retention.

  • Meditation app

This type of fitness application is often called yoga and meditation apps. They provide users with different levels of exercises that help them keep peace of mind and do yoga. It is important to remember that such practices should be divided into different levels of complexity based on users’ levels.

If you want to know how to create a workout app with the highest retention rate, your answer is this type of application. They usually have such functionality as daily reminders to inform users about sessions. Great examples of such applications are Daily Yoga and the Breathe by Apple.

Create a Fitness App with Meditation Feature

As you can see, different types of applications are available. They can be created for a studio, personal trainer, innovative startups, sports company, and other fitness businesses.

Features & Benefits for Fitness Application Development

Often, our clients ask our advice on how to create a workout app that users will fall in love with. The best way to achieve this goal is to include a lot of useful features. The best fitness and nutrition apps rely on a number of basic features and have one or two unique ones.

Let’s investigate the workout application features of the first type.

Must-Have Fitness App Features
  • Sign up / log in

If you check out how to create a workout app, you will notice that a lot of such solutions offer the ability to create a user account. In most cases, you will need such functionality when you build a fitness app. Make sure you provide users with different options, like registration with an email address and fast sign up with social media like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  • User account

A user account is especially important if you decide to create a fitness app that will help you make money. Workout apps provide users with insight into their progress, achievement, allow setting up personal goals, and much more.

Thus, if you look at how to create a workout app, such functionality should be on your feature list.

You can include different options into a personal account, like the ability to use an app on multiple devices with the information stored in the cloud. Also, it is possible to add the functionality to manage paid subscriptions and billion information with integrated payment systems.

Among other options that users will enjoy is the ability to add their personal photos, adjust interface preferences, add their weight, height, and other physical and health conditions that will be used during the creation of personalized workout plans. The latter option is especially important if you decide to create a workout plan app.

  • Social integration

Nowadays, you can hardly find a user who is not active on a few social media platforms. As was already mentioned, you need to consider this feature when you look at how to create a workout app with a personal account. However, you can take this functionality a step further and, in addition to social sign up and log in, allow for users to share their personal fitness results with their friends over social media.

  • Device connectivity

We strongly recommend considering this feature if you decide to build a fitness app that will provide users with real and useful insight into their physical activity. Fitness app developers will help you integrate your personal workout app with different wearable devices. HealthKit and Google Fit APIs will help you derive data from Apple watch and the most popular wearables running on Wear OS by Google.

  • Activity tracking

If you check out how to create a workout app, you will find this option among key fitness app features. This functionality is directly connected with the previous point as it entails the collection of information on user activity, which is best to do with wearables. However, it is also possible to use built-in smartphone sensors, like GPS.

You can build a fitness app that will count the number of steps made, calculate calories burned, miles covered, etc.

  • Geolocation

Running and cycling fitness applications usually rely heavily on this feature. With the help of integrated Google or Apple maps and built-in GPS sensors, users can create routes for running, tacking, hiking, walking, etc. When you look at how to create a workout app of this type, you probably need to also include the ability to track covered distance, to locate a current location, etc. Strava has nailed this feature to perfection.

  • Calorie counting

In most cases, people use workout apps to lose weight or to put on muscles. Thus, it is important to allow them to count how much calories they consume and burn on everyday tasks and during workouts.

  • Notifications

Push notifications are a must-have for many applications, fitness apps no exclusion. With such notifications, you can inform users about key updates inside your apps or to remind them about planned workouts and the need to work out more.

Please remember that such notification should not annoy users. For that purpose, it might be a good idea to allow users to adjust the app’s notification system, by changing the time and frequency of such notifications.

  • Goal setting

Nothing motivates more than personal goals. Especially if you combine this feature with the ability to set personal goals and share them with friends over social media platforms. That’s how to create a workout app that will create a constant challenge for users and motivate them to work out more and according to their personal plans. Don’t forget about this feature if you decide to build a workout plan app.

  • Workouts

There are different ways to implement this feature to create a fitness app. The way you choose depends on the types of fitness apps you are considering. You can provide users with standard workouts, allow to create personal ones by themselves, or get professional consultation and workout plan creation by a professional fitness coach.

  • Settings

When looking for an answer on how to create a workout app, it is important to not overlook this functionality. Give users an option to make minor changes to the interface (like white and dark themes), configure notifications, and set up other parameters.

  • Educational content

The best approach on how to create a workout app is to educate your users about a healthy lifestyle, workouts, diets, and other topics that might interest them. You can share useful content in different forms, e.g. checklists on how to be fit, videos with the best workout exercises, etc.

The above features show how to create a workout app of the simplest type. Read on to find out how to make a fitness app that will offer unique functionality.

What flagship features should a fitness app have?

Trending Fitness App Features

Let’s help your application stand out among competitors with the help of unique fitness app features.

  • Gamification

Gamification is the answer to how to create a workout app that will retain users over a long time. The implementation of such functionality helps users to stay motivated and interact with your application more.

You can allow users to compete with friends, create a reward system with badges, start contests, etc. RunKeeper and Nike+ are two solutions to look for inspiration if you decide to build a fitness app with such features. Take it even further and allow to exchange the received points for in-app purchases, access to unique content, or partner with some sports clothing and equipment store to exchange points for real products. Or you can send your own branded presents to customers for big in-app achievements.

  • Virtual reality

Don’t just create a fitness app but turn it into a real game with virtual reality. The feature should be positioned as a unique and flagship one, as it can become your competitive advantage. Be aware that implementation of VR into fitness app development is an extensive process that requires additional expenses. Go for this feature only if you have some unique and valuable ideas.

  • Voice control

If you want to know how to create a workout app with superior user-friendliness, consider adding such functionality. It can benefit applications of all types, as users will be able to pause their training, change exercises, set up timers with their voice.

If you decide to go on with such functionality, fitness app developers can implement it with Google Assistant for Android devices and Siri for iOS.

Note: The number of features you decide to build a fitness app with directly influence the needed budget and development timeline. Thus, it might be reasonable to start with the development of fitness with a basic set of features and add additional ones with further iterations after you have successfully tested the first version of your workout and diet app.

Custom Workout App Monetization Strategy

You can make money with your workout app by choosing one of the following business models:

  • Paid
  • Freemium
  • Ads
  • In-app purchases
  • Sponsored content

Let’s examine each option in more detail.

  • Paid apps

Before using fitness applications of this type, users have to pay for it. It is possible to create a paid app with a one-time payment or provide subscriptions. The price you set can vary based on the locations, set of features, etc. Use this business model only if you know how to build a fitness app with unique features.

  • Freemium

This is another popular business model, as it allows users to test basic functionality before they have to pay for something. You need to be prepared that for some users such basic features will be enough. Still, you can entice them to pay for additional content, features, workouts, or personal coaching and nutrition services.

  • Ads

In-app ads are still one of the most popular business models. Aside from getting money for ads placement, you can also provide users with an option to block all advertisements for some payment.

  • In-app purchases

Even if you choose one of the above approaches, you can include this feature additionally. There is always some content that you can offer to users for payment, like workout checklists, useful tips, personal training sessions, consultations, and much more.

  • Sponsored content

This business model requires dedication and desire to find partners among other sports companies. You can allow them to place ads of their businesses inside your app, offer unique content, and sell their expertise. Such apps are a win-win, as you get money while your users get unique content for a small payment.

How to Create a Workout App: Step-by-Step Guide

How Do I Start My Own Fitness App

It is time to move to the step-by-step guide on how to create a workout app. You will learn the main steps and stages of the mobile fitness app development process.

Step 1: Market Research

During this stage, you need to study the local fitness applications market and decide which type of fitness app you want to create. Before you move forward and start the development process, you need to understand who will be your competitors, which strong and weak points they have, how they solve user points. Use the collected data to make a comprehensive analysis and decide which type of all you want to create.

Step 2: Features for the First App Version

It is time to decide on features to create a fitness app that will be user-friendly and feature-rich. Create a full list of features for the version of your workout application and identify which ones will help you be better than competitors.

Step 3: Find Fitness App Developers

Approach this stage with attention and be ready to spend quite some time on finding the most reliable vendor. As you will review companies, pay attention to the following factors:

  • number of years on the market
  • relevant experience in mobile app development
  • positive customer feedback
  • favorable time zone and hourly rate
  • availability of senior developers

You can look for development companies on Clutch, Manifest, ITFirms, and other similar directories where you can compare hourly rates, check reviews and find a company that will become your reliable technical partners for the duration of your project.

Step 4: Mobile Workout App Development

In most companies, the development process is divided into five big stages:

  • Analysis and planning – this stage, which is also called the Discovery stage, usually entails the cooperation of business analysts, UX/UI designers, software architects, and product owners. During the discovery stage, you analyze the market, choose the best approaches to app development to create app architecture, and design the first prototype.
  • UX/UI design – during this stage, designers create user flows, define the best ways for users to interact with your application, design the app’s user interface, and create branding elements.
  • Fitness app development – that is where the development process starts. During this phase, developers work to implement all the planned features and create the needed software architecture.
  • Testing and deployment – this step ensures that your application doesn’t have any bugs and users will not have problems interacting with it. After the app is tested, you can release it to the market.

Step 5: Marketing Strategy

You should start working on your marketing strategy even when your application is still in the development stage. You can use a complex approach and promote your app through different channels:

  • paid ads (Google, Facebook, in-store)
  • social media marketing
  • integration with niche influencers
  • app advertising at events
  • cooperation with fitness companies

After you have successfully launched the app, keep track of the key metrics to understand what you can improve in your application with further versions.

Step 6: Ongoing Development and Support

After you create a list of improvements, continue working on your application. Improve its functionality, add new features, listen to customer feedback, and provide them with solutions to their pain points.

The above explains how to create a workout app and guarantee its success.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Fitness App?

A workout app you will cost at least $88,250 for one platform (iOS or Android). A workout app with a minimum set of features will cost you between $38,000 to $91,000. For a medium app  $55,550 and $131,000 and $131,000+ for a big application with versions for separate operating systems.

Please note that the above estimation is very rough and the final cost depends on the number of features, supported operating processes, app architecture, country to which you outsource app development, etc.

How much does launching an app cost in 2021?

Check our article How Much Does It Cost to Build an App. You will learn about the main stages of app development, how much money you need to spend on each, and how to avoid unexpected expenses.

How to Create a Fitness App: Key Takeaways

Once you decide to create a fitness app, you will need to deal with market research, app creation planning, development process, after-launch support, and ongoing development. You can ensure the success of your future application by choosing a unique set of features and solving the problems that your competitors failed to do.

You can start with the first version of an application for iOS or Android to test your idea. Such an application should have basic features and provide users with a general app idea. If your idea turns out to be a hit, continue the development process, and invest to add more advanced features.

Do you want to build a fitness app that will be popular?

Get in touch with us for free initial project discussion and estimation. Our business analysts and tech experts provide you with recommendations on how to build such applications.

FAQ: How to create a fitness and workout application?

What is the cost to create a workout app?

The minimum cost ap fitness app development is $5,000-$0,000 for the simplest app version with minimum features. The cost can reach up to $172,000 and go beyond if you decide to create two feature-rich native apps for both iOS and Android.

Why invest in fitness app development?

During 2020-2026, the global fitness app market will grow at a CAGR of 26.2%. by 2026, the market will be worth $15,96 billion. Thus, if you want to get a part of that pie, it is time to start the development process.

How can I make money with a fitness app?

To make money with your fitness application, you can choose one of the following business models:

  • Paid app
  • Freemium model
  • In-app ads
  • In-app purchases
  • Sponsored content

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