Developing Different Types of Health and Fitness Apps: Our Experience and Market Leaders Examples

Sports and fitness app development is in high gear. According to Coherent Market Insights, the global sports and fitness apps market is predicted to show a tremendous CAGR of 20.4 percent from 2019 to 2027. 

We decided to write this article in response to the startling pace of development in this industry. We cover the most common types of apps that help users keep fit. We also talk about the market leaders, discuss the reasons for their success, and share our experience developing health and fitness apps. 

Health and fitness apps can be divided into three categories according to the type of data they manage: workout apps, nutrition and diet apps, and fitness activity tracking apps. There are also all-round fitness apps that have broad functionality. Let’s begin with looking at workout apps.

Read about activity tracking technology used in fitness apps and wearables

Workout apps

There are a few flavors of workout apps. We’ll break them down into three broad categories: personal trainer apps, logbook apps, and workout fitness tracking apps that pair with devices people wear to the gym.

Personal trainer apps

Personal trainer apps include exercise routines that can come in different formats: videos, illustrations, 3D models, or just text. You can choose a workout that matches your personal preferences, set a difficulty level, and start training muscles from the comfort of your home. No gym required.

Screenshot from the Physcult app

Our experience building personal trainer apps
The screenshot above is from Physcult, one of the personal trainer apps we’ve developed. It shows a 3D model where users can pick the body parts they want to train. Then the app offers video lessons with exercises focused on training the selected body parts.

Popular personal trainer apps

Sworkit is another popular personal trainer app that offers customized training programs. Users can choose a type of routine, such as cardio or stretching, and enter how many minutes they have to train. As a result, they get a video-guided and precision-timed workout. Asana Rebel, in turn, provides yoga-inspired fitness combining yoga practices with traditional exercises like planks and burpees.

A separate type of personal trainer app is a Crossfit app. Crossfit routines are about doing a set of exercises within a certain time period. Crossfit training requires a well-balanced program, and there are a lot of apps that can help users organize their workouts. You can check out WODBook as an example. WODBook allows users to track and log daily workouts and gives access to a local leaderboard so users can compare results with other users. WODBook is highly rated by sports magazines for its great functionality. 7 Minute Workout is one more popular Crossfit app. 

Take a look at our article on developing an app similar to 7 Minute Workout.

As great as they are, most personal trainer apps can’t be customized. You can follow routines, but you can’t set up your own, which is important if you’re a serious gym-goer. We describe customizable workout apps in the next section.

Logbook apps

A logbook app that allows for planning and recording personal exercise routines can be a great solution for gym training. 

Logbook concept by Yalantis

Our Workout Book concept (check out the case study) features great style and a brilliant interactive design and doesn’t demand too much attention. Hence, it doesn’t distract users from working out.


Talking of the world’s practice, Strong, one of the leading workout log apps, offers an extensive library of exercises with the ability to add sets and exercises. Jefit is one more example of a logbook app. It enables users to choose from over 1,000 exercises or add their own, then combine them to create a workout plan.

Read also: Our Healthcare Software Development Services

Workout fitness tracking apps that pair with devices

Fitness app development is progressing fast. Today, we see smarter and smarter gym technologies appearing. Smart gyms rely on a network of sensors and NFC tags to track user activity within the gym. Smart devices count every rep, set, and exercise, log this information, and then present it to you in a mobile app. How to create a fitness app?

A few words about our expertise

It’s time to tell you about one of our projects that fits perfectly in this category of workout apps. The Talos Android app lets gym-goers and personal trainers sync their devices with sports equipment and offers an admin panel for gyms. Read the case study for more information and incredible designs.


What about other fitness trackers?

When it comes to fitness tracking apps, Google Fit is worth mentioning. It helps users track their fitness by means of a point system and active minutes. This app also tracks fitness goals and integrates with other apps such as Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal. In addition, it supports hardware including Wear OS smartwatches and Xiaomi Mi Bands.

Gamification in workout apps

Just like activity tracking apps, workout apps use gamification features and social elements to motivate users.

How to develop a workout app with gamification elements

As part of a fitness center platform we designed for one of our clients, we built an app for fitness center visitors. This app allows users to collect and redeem loyalty points for visiting the center, making purchases, and using the app to track their progress.

Fitness center platform loyalty program screen

Read also: Writing a Request for Proposal to Your Potential Software Partner

What are the leading gamified workout apps?

Strava is a fitness app with motivating gamification elements. Users can compare their performance against their previous achievements and other users’ achievements, check their place on the leaderboard, and get trophies for their best times.

The Pact app motivates users through a carrot-and-stick approach: users make a weekly Pact with the app to exercise more or eat healthier. Then the app tracks the progress of all users and pays money to those who do a good job throughout the week. Our team provided some support and updates for this project.

How do workout apps make money?

There are various ways for workout apps to generate revenue. Fitbit Coach offers a premium subscription that unlocks access to unlimited HD video training. Fitocracy provides users with a personal coach and exclusively customized nutrition and workout plans for $1 a day. The Pact app charges users for missing gym sessions. The Blogilates app sells athleisure wear.

Nutrition and diet apps

As a part of mHealth, mobile apps that track nutrition habits are also activity tracking apps, only with more specific functionality. You can add food logging as an additional feature to your fitness tracking solution, as Fitbit does. But there’s a whole audience of users whose only purpose for using a fitness app is to keep to a diet, track calories, and control water and coffee intake.

Nutrition app developed by Yalantis

One more example that shows our experience building nutrition apps is GrowFit. This app allows users to chat with professional nutritionists to get recommendations. GrowFit also generates personalized diets and provides an in-app shop to buy healthy food.

The GrowFit app

Functionality of nutrition and diet apps

The purpose of nutrition apps is to help users achieve their personal goals, whether that be eating healthy, losing weight, or gaining weight. But plotting calories on a graph and sending messages when a user achieves a goal is not enough. A fitness app should offer calls to action, encouraging users to get off the couch and burn some calories when they’ve missed a goal.

When it comes to documenting food consumption, most nutrition and diet apps rely on manual input; but there are certain ideas you can use to make entering data easier for users.

Just like in a grocery shopping list app, you can build a database with a dictionary in your app so users can quickly add items to their diet. Also, an app can remember previously entered items for faster entry in the future with the aid of a word prompter.

You can also use geofencing to automatically load the menus of restaurants a user visits. 

Another useful feature widely used by nutrition and diet apps is a barcode scanner. MyFitnessPal, Fooducate, MyPlate, and Lose It! can log food purchases using barcode scanning.

Read also: How to Develop a Diet and Nutrition App: Main Features and Useful Development Tips

Fitness activity tracking apps

This category includes apps that track physical activity, including steps taken, stairs climbed, hours slept, distance traveled, and calories burned.

To implement activity tracking capabilities, you don’t even need to connect your app to a smartphone’s sensors. HealthKit and Google Fit both offer APIs to access health and fitness data collected on their platforms. You can read our article about how HealthKit and Google Fit can help you develop a health and fitness application.

If you want your app to constantly detect and monitor pulse, blood glucose level, and other physiological parameters that are hard to measure from a smartphone, you can implement a Bluetooth connection to enable a data flow from a fitness tracking device.

The Google Fit app

What value can fitness activity trackers offer you and your customers?

Once you’ve identified what type of information your app will collect and what types of products it will connect with, you should think about how the data will be analyzed, and most importantly, what business problems the app will solve for you and your customers.

You can encourage users to take desired actions through gamification, incentives, rewards, and nudges. The Strava Running & Cycling app, for example, has a system of leaderboards and challenges that allow users to compete with each other, win rewards, and gain achievements.

Another app called Zombies, Run! requires users to run and walk in the real world to complete the game’s mission and advance through the storyline.

If you just want to make the world a better place, you can find inspiration in the Charity Miles app. This app donates from 10 to 25 cents to a charitable organization of your choice for each mile covered.

How do fitness tracking apps make money?

For brands that sell activity tracking devices, mobile apps are just a marketing tool for boosting sales. Apps that aren’t associated with wearables mostly rely on freemium models with in-app purchases and in-app ads. For example, Zombies, Run! has only basic features available in the free version. You can unlock the rest of the app’s content if you buy a membership. The business models of fitness tracking apps are similar to those of free to play mobile games. If you want to make money with a fitness app, we suggest checking out how mobile games make money.

If you have a great idea for a fitness app, we would be happy to hear about it providing our outsourcing app development!

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