Are you thinking of creating an app for your fitness or yoga studio? You’re probably not the only one. I speak to yoga and fitness studio owners regularly, and they have seriously considered creating an app for their studio at some point. So should you create an app for your yoga or fitness studio?
Creating an app for a small fitness or yoga studio is not a good idea. A better approach is to invest in a fully mobile-optimized customer experience and offer all the features of an app on the mobile web.
However, if you do decide to build a fitness or yoga app, follow these steps:
- Create a concept.
- Do market research.
- Identify the main features of your app.
- Design the UI and UX.
- Develop and test your app.
- Market your app.
- Release your app.
In this article, I will give you clear steps you can take to create an app for your fitness studio or yoga studio. I will also provide evidence that you can use to decide if you should invest in an app or not.
Should You Create An App For Your Fitness Or Yoga Studio?
You shouldn’t create a fitness app if you operate a small studio, as it likely won’t return a positive ROI. The current market is oversaturated and dominated by a few large companies, so unless you’re making a companion app for a large gym or have significant resources, it’s better to opt for a mobile-first approach.
You should consider creating your app if you have a significant budget to spend – $20,000 – $80,000 – on custom app development and marketing. However, studios that don’t have this budget do not fall into the trap of no-code and out-of-the-box app builders.
Statistics About App Usage
Consider these statistics and the trends in the market:
The above statistics indicate that we continue to use apps. However, we spend our time on a limited number of apps. Additionally, we rarely try newer apps unless your app is TikTok.
So, where does this leave you, yoga or fitness studio owner? If you create an app, only a tiny fraction of your users will use it, and these users already have a relationship with you.
Fitness and Yoga Studio App Landscape
By making your fitness or yoga studio app, you will be competing with well-established giants that don’t mind offering their services for very little or free and have a near unlimited marketing budget.
Take the case of Nike Training Club. This fully-fledged app can be downloaded and used for free, and thanks to Nike’s brand recognition, it has become extremely popular. It features content made by popular trainers and a wide variety of features.
Even if you’re aiming for something more specific, aimed at students in your studio, you’ll face tough competition. Unless you are merely using the app to manage bookings and sell passes, in that case, do you need an app? Your students will still prefer the more prominent apps with huge production value, which are free!
There are other giants like Apple Fitness+. It offers a premium fitness experience for Apple Watch owners seamlessly integrated with the Apple suite.
Lastly, there are smaller but still competitive Influencer made apps. Many trainers that have become popular through YouTube and social media create their own apps. For example, Tom Merricks’ App may not top the charts, but he can rely on his already built user base.
All in all, the market is saturated and highly competitive.
Succeeding With Your Fitness Studio or Yoga Studio App
You can still compete in the app market but making a fitness app isn’t cheap. You could look into custom app development if you have a budget of $20,000 to $100,000.
Do stay away from fitness app builders or no-code app builders. Although you can launch an app quickly, the app is generic, and the user experience is sub-par compared to the other options in the market.
Fitness apps can be profitable for large companies and some influencers. But unless you have a specific target audience, a small studio will be better off investing in a mobile-first experience.
I will explore the topic of mobile-first customer experience for yoga and fitness studios later in the article.
How To Create a Fitness App For A Yoga or Fitness Studio – Step by Step Guide
1. Create a Concept
The first step in making any app is coming up with an idea. You know you’re building an app for your fitness studio or yoga studio, but you don’t want a generic, unoriginal product.
Since you are a yoga or fitness studio owner, you most likely want the app as the central hub for customer interactions – scheduling, booking, payments, on-demand video, membership management, etc.
Additionally, identify the goals you want your app to achieve. Some of the goals could be:
- Increase sales by attracting new customers
- Reduce churn by increasing customer retention
- High NPS scores. Your customers recommend your studio to their friends and family.
Take the time to brainstorm and develop a solid concept for your app. If you’re not sure about how the results of this step should look, here are some pointers:
- Audience. Think about what’s the target audience of your project. Demographic information about your audience will come in very handy. Try to imagine how your product will fit into your customers’ lives.
- Mission. The mission statement of your project is a short explanation of its purpose and what motivates it.
- Vision. The vision statement of your app explains what you hope to achieve in the long term and perhaps how you plan to get there.
2. Do Market Research
In 2020 the fitness app market was valued at 4.4 billion dollars and will grow during the next few years. Case in point, fitness app downloads increased by 46% during 2020.
The pandemic is partially responsible for this growth. For one, it has increased health awareness in many people. But it also has marked a shift from trips to the gym to at-home training. However, as we come out of the pandemic, people are flocking back to fitness and yoga studios.
But it’s not like fitness apps are that new. They started appearing back in the early days of smartphones in 2008. Since then, they’ve evolved and added tons of functionalities and integration with other devices, like smartwatches and fitness trackers.
3. List the Features of Your App
You have a clear vision of what you want your fitness or yoga app to be and how it compares to others. Now it’s time to transform all that effort into concrete features.
If you’re not sure about them, it can be helpful to look at the three most common types of fitness apps:
- Activity trackers. These apps let users organize their fitness goals and keep track of their progress toward achieving them. They provide valuable data, like charts and a log record.
- Diet and nutrition. Similar to trackers, users log information about when and how they eat. These apps also help them determine their eating habits depending on their goals and characteristics.
- Workout apps. These apps often contain a library of exercises users can perform at home or the gym. Sometimes they curate workouts adapted to the user’s needs and goals.
You can consider the features of the different types of fitness/yoga apps; however, since your app is specific to your studio, you will need some basic features in place:
- User profiles
- Membership management
- Supporting group classes, appointments, and events
- Device integration
- Integration with your studio booking software
- Integration with social networks
- Activity tracking. There’s a good chance your fitness app will benefit from allowing people to register and track their progress.
- Gamification elements
4. Design the UI and UX
It’s crucial to get your design right. UI/UX refers to how your app will look and flow and may play a decisive role in whether users stick with it or not.
The deliverables after designing the UX include:
- App icon
- App layout
- Color palette
Here you’ll also work with user interaction, which is how your user will navigate your app. If you’re creating a workout app, your users should easily find any workout. If it’s a lifestyle app, they should be able to log their data quickly.
5. Develop and Test Your App
The development of your app is the most time-consuming of all the steps. It’s where all the pieces —features, design, monetization— are combined into something that works. It’s where the app comes to life.
The development of your app will include two main areas:
- The front-end development creates the user interactions and the customer-facing flow
- The Back-end development creates the brain behind the platform.
During and after development, your app will also go through testing and quality assurance, which involves looking for bugs and issues so that your app is fully functional at launch.
The more testers you have on your team, the sooner this will be completed before launching your app.
6. Market Your App
As with any business, you’ll need to market your app. You certainly don’t have to leave this step for last —starting soon is a good idea.
When marketing your app, make sure you show why it’s useful. If it doesn’t fulfill any need or doesn’t make people’s lives easier, you’ll have a tough time acquiring users.
Other than that, there are many marketing strategies you can use:
- Pay-per-click advertisement. These are useful for generating quick traffic and for starting your marketing campaign.
- SEO. SEO will work much better if you have a website and a blog that links to your app. It’s a sure way to generate long-term interest.
- QR codes. QR codes make it easy for users to download your app. The fewer steps it takes, the more likely they are to make the download.
- Social media. No marketing campaign is complete without a relevant content marketing strategy for social media.
- Email marketing. Your existing users will be your app’s primary users, and the best way to reach them is through email campaigns.
7. Release Your App
Finally, it’s time to release your app. But that doesn’t mean that you are on the path to success.
You’ll need to work on it for at least the following months. As user reviews come in, you’ll find bugs to fix and minor enhancements to be made. Dealing with them soon will generate trust and interest in your user base.
Depending on the kind of app you’re creating, you’ll need to keep feeding it with content indefinitely. If it’s a workout app, that means creating videos or infographics with new workouts. For lifestyle apps, that may mean adding new categories for logging.
You’ll also need to keep an eye out for any new fitness device integrations that will be needed.
Options For App Development
Custom App Development
With custom app development, an app is built from the ground up to fit your needs.
Custom apps are scalable, provide high security, and connect smoothly with your other systems. The main hurdle is, of course, cost.
Custom app development will give you a complete app, but it can be expensive. There are three main ways to go about it:
- Build your own small team. If you build a small team, you should be able to keep your costs down while working on a small app.
- Build an in-house development team. Large companies can have an entire division dedicated to building one or more apps.
- Work with an app development agency. You can reach out to an agency that will work with you on the planning stages but handle the development themselves. You’ll have the chance to supervise and give constant feedback.
The cost of working with an agency will depend on the scale of your app, but sometimes it’s more efficient than building your own team. The custom app development option will cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 for a simple app.
White Label App
Third-party companies develop white-label apps. These are the no-code apps or out-of-the-box apps that you know. Such apps are surprisingly cheap; some cost as little as $99 for lifetime access!
There is a reason this option is so affordable. You are white-labeling a pre-built app and simply putting your logo and brand palette on top of the app. Such apps will not be a differentiator for your business and will rarely meet your goals.
After taking your requirements as a brand, they’ll build an app that meets those criteria without any other input and sometimes no supervision.
Pursuing this option is to create an app for the sake of creating an app!
In any case, choosing these companies has a few advantages. The required investment is relatively small. The turnaround time is quick, and they’ll also handle maintenance in the future.
The main disadvantage is that you won’t have any guarantees over the quality of your app. You will also most likely end up with a generic app.
Such factors coupled with low-quality code can result in app stores rejecting your app. In the past, app stores have banned thousands of apps built on such generic app builders. Don’t expect a white-label app to be feature-packed or scalable in the future.
Fitness and Yoga Studio Software
There is a better option and a middle ground between custom app development and using a white-label app builder.
Mobile accounts for half of the web traffic worldwide. You will have personal experience using the mobile web (accessing the internet on your mobile browser). Today, you can browse the internet and make purchases from your mobile browser seamlessly. The mobile web has come a long way since the days when mobile apps dominated the mobile experience.
The best option for a fitness studio or yoga studio owner is to provide access to the features of your booking and scheduling software on the mobile web.
Doing so will allow your customers to see your schedule, make bookings, make payments, manage cancellations and waitlists, and receive notifications all on the mobile browser without needing a custom app. Make sure your booking and scheduling software is fully mobile optimized.
StudioGrowth is the best option if you want a booking platform that users can use seamlessly on mobile devices. The customer-facing experience is built with a mobile-first view.
How To Monetize Fitness Apps
You can monetize your app by offering:
- One-time purchase
- Monthly subscription
- In-app purchases
- Free but enabling payments for classes and appointments through the app
The best monetization strategy for your app will depend on the type of service you offer. There are mainly four ways of monetizing your app:
- Paid app is the simplest way: put a price to download your app. People get full access to your product after a one-time purchase. This method works well for relatively simple apps with low maintenance requirements.
- Subscription-based. Downloading the app is free, but users must pay a monthly or yearly subscription.
- In-app purchases. These apps offer free base content, but users must pay to access extra content or more features. For example, you could provide a free basic, full-body workout routine but require payment to access more specialized workouts.
- Ad-supported. These apps offer their content for free but sell space and time to advertisers. You could provide an option to pay a fee to remove the ads. When going for this strategy, it’s a good idea to partner with companies that sell fitness-related products.
- Free, but the app must be your studio’s operational hub. Your users book classes, make payments and consume on-demand content within the app.
Why Do Fitness Apps Fail?
Most fitness apps fail because there is an oversaturation of fitness apps in the market and because most fail to change their users’ behavior.
Many factors contribute to an app’s failure. However, fitness apps suffer from a particular problem: oversaturation.
Fitness apps crowd the app stores. There are hundreds of competitors for every niche: running, strength training, quick workouts, personalized coaching, and weight loss. It’s easy for your app to get lost in the crowd.
But there’s another issue with fitness apps that’s much more pervasive and difficult to solve: most of them don’t work. The “eat less and exercise more” logic doesn’t give results because humans don’t live in a vacuum.
A study showed that when people exercise, they are more likely to overindulge when eating, which is too easy to do when there is a tendency to overestimate the calories burnt or results achieved during a workout.
There’s also the fact that calorie count isn’t enough to explain whether a person will gain or lose weight. Things like hormones and medications can sometimes have a more substantial effect than a diet.
It’s challenging to change a person’s habits, and the technique most fitness apps use doesn’t work. People don’t stick to routines when they feel like they have to do them, especially when they don’t want to do something like exercise. People are much more easily motivated to do something when they want to do it.
If you’re making a fitness app, you better be prepared to overcome these obstacles.
As a fitness or yoga studio owner, your biggest challenge will be having your users use your app regularly. You will find that most of your students continue to use your website or walk into your studio to manage operational elements such as scheduling and payments.
How Much Does It Cost To Create a Fitness App?
Creating a fitness app with a team of professionals can cost anywhere from $40,000 to over $120,000. The price depends on the app’s size and complexity.
The cost of creating a fitness app depends on your objectives. You will need significant investment if you want a feature-packed app that can support a large user base.
In these cases, it’s best to go with an app development agency. These companies usually don’t display their prices upfront, but a survey reveals their approximate costs:
- $40,000 – $60,000 for simple apps.
- $61,000 – $120,000 for medium complexity apps.
- $120,000+ for complex apps.
Then you have to add maintenance costs, depending on the type of app you’re making. If you’re offering a subscription-based product, be ready to spend $10,000 to $90,000 a year creating new content.
Most of these costs go to:
- UI/UX design
Of course, if you’re planning to build a simple app with a specific use —no login, no database, no fancy features— then the picture is different.
You could also contract freelance designers and developers and get your app developed for half the price that an agency charges.
Do Fitness Apps Make Money?
Most fitness apps don’t make any money. The top 20% of apps make approximately $1000 or more daily, but that number drops quickly for less popular apps.
A first look at the finances of fitness apps can leave one thinking there’s a lot of money to make.
The accumulated revenue of all fitness apps almost reached 3.5 billion dollars in 2020, in no small part thanks to the lockdown. During October 2021 —only one month— the top ten fitness apps made over 1 million dollars.
The average daily earnings of a fitness app on iOS and Android is $1,450, but this isn’t very useful. A small number of significant and profitable apps skew this number.
Instead, we should look at the median. In that case, we get $0. That’s right. More than half of fitness apps make $0 in revenue.
If you can carve yourself a spot among the most popular fitness apps, you’ll be able to make serious cash. But that prospect isn’t too likely, since the market already has many well-established and well-funded brands.
How Long Does It Take To Create a Fitness App?
Creating a fitness app can take six months to one year. The development length usually depends on your project’s size and scope.
- Planning could take you a month or even more. However, most small apps have that part done in 2 weeks.
- UX/UI design is crucial to get right, so you should not rush this step. Small apps should take around one month, but bigger apps can take more than double that.
- Development and testing is the most prolonged phase, including the front-end and back-end development. It should take 2-5 months, depending on the scope of your app and the number of developers working on the project.
- App deployment. Add a couple of weeks to create an account on the app stores and a profile for your app.
Fitness apps aren’t likely to be profitable for small studios. Well-established companies dominate the market, and thousands of unsuccessful fitness apps exist.
If you are a yoga or fitness studio owner, continue investing in your scheduling and booking platform while making the features available on the mobile web. You will accomplish your business goals without the need for expensive mobile apps.
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About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness, and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently splits his time between the U.K and the US.