Even before the lockdowns began, millions of people worldwide were tracking calories, keeping up with fitness community news, and reaching their goals with the help of fitness tracking apps. But once the pandemic hit, the fitness app market saw incredible growth.
If you’re thinking of developing a fitness app for Android/iOS or wearables like the Apple Watch, you should take a page out of the collective books of the most popular apps available. In this review, we’ll highlight the top apps, what makes them popular, and reveal one of the biggest selling points your app may be missing.
Why Fitness Apps Are (Still) so Important in 2021
As we have seen through our fitness-related projects we’ve helped clients with, users are flooding to app stores to find a way to deal with the stress, and often weight gain, that they’re experiencing post-pandemic.
A Harvard Medical School article reviewed several studies related to weight change and found that:
As it turns out, 39% of patients [15 million people included in the study] gained weight during the pandemic, with weight gain defined as above the normal fluctuation of 2.5 pounds.
And that’s not all.
Approximately 27% gained less than 12.5 pounds, and about 10% gained more than 12.5 pounds, with 2% gaining over 27.5 pounds.
The article also states that stress may be a major factor as cortisol (the stress hormone) raises the likelihood of eating tasty (hyper-palatable) foods. Granted, the Harvard researchers also point out that some people respond to cortisol by not eating. So, whether people gained or lost weight during the pandemic, stress was through the roof. And as we all know, one of the best ways to deal with stress is sweating it out in a fun workout.
The Best Activity Tracking Apps for Android & iOS
We chose these as the best exercise apps because they represent three of the most common use cases — tracking activities, tracking calories and food intake, and staying mindful of stress and how to deal with it.
Strava is the most popular app for tracking running, cycling, and swimming. It has a massive community and is used by athletes around the world. Strava allows you to record and share routes/trails, analyze your training and progress, and Strava developers continue to pump out great features that keep users coming back.
- Activity tracking for running, riding, swimming, and many more
- Performance analysis
- Route mapping, heatmaps, GPS beacon
- Social network
Google Fit: Activity Tracker
Google Fit makes tracking activities easy and fun with personalized workouts and advanced activity tracking. And with its ability to connect to multiple devices and services, the app displays real-time data like heart rate, pace, distance, sleep tracking, etc. In addition, Google Fit partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to create one of the best fitness apps for men and women who want to keep their hearts and minds healthy (based on the WHO’s physical actiivty recommendations).
- Customized coaching
- Heart Points and Move Minutes metrics
- Sync with dozens of apps and devices
Nike Run Club - Running Coach
Nike Run Club is a runner’s dream app. It does the basics like tracking runs, routes, elevation, and heart rate. And it also helps people become better runners by offering guided runs, training plans, and most importantly, a community. The Nike community is a worldwide hub of running pros and enthusiasts that will challenge and support you along your fitness journey.
- Guided runs and training plans
- In-run audio “cheers” from friends/family
- Milestones, challenges, trophies, and badges
- Sync with Android OS and Apple Health supported devices
Best Fitness Apps for Apple Watch
The Apple Watch is an interesting case, as it initially flopped, losing out to the more popular Fitbit. Luckily, the smart people at Apple redirected their marketing efforts to fitness, and the rest is history. The following two apps are Apple-exclusive.
Apple Fitness+ is an all-in-one fitness and wellness app. It uses all the smart features and sensors of the Apple Watch to the fullest to provide real-time data like heart rate, calories burned, and syncs across all Apple devices (Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad). In addition, Apple Fitness+ includes 11 different types of workouts like HIIT, Yoga, Pilates, and even workouts for pregnancy, making it one of the best fitness apps for women.
It’s free with all Apple Watch purchases.
- Real-time data sync across all Apple devices
- Virtual workouts for any fitness level
- Improve fitness with friends/family virtually
Learn more about Apple Fitness+ here.
Gymaholic Workout Tracker
Gymaholic takes advantage of Apple’s Augmented Reality (AR) support by allowing you to work with a virtual trainer, who shows you how to do exercises properly. The app also gives you an avatar that you can customize to represent you. Gymaholic is used primarily for weight lifting workouts, but it also has HIIT, cardio, bodyweight, and TRX workouts available.
- 3D animated and guided workouts
- Virtual avatar
- 700+ exercises
Zones for Training
Exercising within certain heart rate zones can help people reach their fitness goals faster. Tat’s why Zones for Training took it upon themselves to create an app that supports 70+ types of activities while accurately measuring your heart rate, displaying it in real-time, and assigning a heart rate zone (Warm Up, Fat Burn, Cardio, and Peak). Also, the app tracks stats for a holistic view of your training efforts and provides insights based on your fitness level.
- Real-time heart rate monitoring
- Visualize workout intensity
- Supports 70+ workout types
- Syncs with Apple Health app
The Fitness App Industry -- Outlook for 2022
Did you know that 80.69% of the world’s population uses smartphones?
According to statistics, the global fitness app market is set to reach 14.64 Billion by 2027. This figure reflects the growing interest in fitness and the continued growth of smartphone and wearable technology use worldwide.
In case you missed it, 2020 was a groundbreaking year for fitness apps. The App Annie report estimates that 71,000 new health and fitness apps were launched in 2020 (up 19% compared to 2019), and fitness app downloads rose over 30%
So what’s it looking like for 2021 and beyond?
Well, in 2021, app downloads went up compared to 2020, but the growth rate wasn’t nearly as high as it was from 2019 to 2020. Fitness apps continue to attract new users and subscribers, but one key thing has changed over these past two years -- fitness apps are actively being future-proofed. In 2022 and beyond, we’ll likely see more virtual features introduced, like virtual coaching and workouts. In addition, we foresee more attention being paid to integrating as many apps and services as possible.
The Secret Sauce Your Fitness App is Missing
All the best fitness apps mentioned in this review have integrations and synchronizations.
Why do we need to integrate and sync between apps, you may be wondering? Simple. There’s no single app that can cover everything a person needs.
For example, someone who wants to lose weight might prefer to track calories in MyFitnessPal, but they rely on Strava to track calories burned during a run or bike ride. If there were no way to integrate apps and wearables, that person would have to manually log the burned calories or resort to stone-age tools like a pen and paper.
The more data you can sync, the better. Data syncing and integrations allow users to seamlessly switch from app to app, making their lives easier and giving you an upper hand over the competition. Plus, with services like Google Fit and Strava, you get free advertising for your app since integration partners are listed on their websites.
If you want to integrate an app or service, but don’t know where to start, contact Brocoders, and we’ll help you out.