Building fitness applications and apps for healthcare in 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has put an emphasis on staying healthy at home. Let’s talk about building fitness applications and apps for healthcare in 2020.

Vladimir Fedak
12 min readJul 17, 2020

COVID-19 lockdown is a worldwide crisis but like any crisis, it provides lots of opportunities for those bold and audacious enough to seize them. While the population of developed countries mostly stays at home, people don’t want to simply waste time watching TV — they want to stay healthy, fit and work on their self-development. There is a huge and growing demand for apps for gym workouts, fitness applications and apps for healthcare in 2020, and this article covers all you need to know on the topic.

According to SimilarWeb report on the coronavirus impact from March of 2020, while traffic to travel websites and booking platforms plummeted, traffic to platforms providing remote fitness applications, apps for gym workouts and various other apps for healthcare nearly doubled. Thus, it is an actively growing market nowadays, and as many people discover the availability of fitness and workout they earlier could not do due to the need to spend too much time commuting.

So how should you go about launching a new product in this promising market? IT Svit shares its experience in product development, and this article will explain the following:

  • How to start building a fitness/healthcare app (a roadmap)
  • How to build a team for MVP development and what specialists do you need for it
  • What should you do in-house and what tasks can be outsourced
  • How to select the best cloud platform for MVP development (checklist)
  • How to make your app secure
  • How to market and promote your product

How to start building a fitness/healthcare app (a roadmap)

SELECT THE CATEGORY. Our smartphones are always with us, making them a perfect destination for fitness applications, so make your apps mobile or build mobile-friendly PWAs at least. There are thousands of various fitness apps on Google Play and App Store currently, but all of them fall under one of the following 5 categories:

  1. High-intensity interval training. This type of remote apps for gym workouts is suitable for experienced athletes who want to keep their training regimen active even when they cannot go to the gym. However, these apps are not beginner-friendly, as they are usually centered on providing timers and instructions for short (up to 10 minutes) high-intensity training sessions for all groups of muscles — from abs and cardio to pushups and booty & thigh exercises.
  2. Dietary and nutrition control apps. This kind of apps is used to help monitor your daily calorie consumption and is suitable for all users. After taking a meal you select the products eaten from the list and specify the weight eaten and the app calculates the calorie intake. Such apps usually come with a barcode scanner, so the users can estimate the calories of any product while they are shopping, which is great for maintaining nutrition control.
  3. Apps for tracking activity. Smartwatches, fitness bands and other devices track our pulse, number of daily steps, distance traveled, etc. This allows activity tracking fitness applications to calculate calorie burn due to walking, running and any other activity. Building a social integration feature into such an app motivates the users to share their achievements on social media, which bolsters their resolve.
  4. Bespoke apps for gym workouts. Such applications can be uniquely built to meet the needs of a particular gym, fitness studio, or personal trainer. They might include a wide range of features, from training schedules and group chat to access to an archive of videos with training guides. Latest innovations like AR/VR and cloud streaming enable users to have live fitness classes streamed into their homes from devices like TheMirror or communicate with their instructors using their mobile devices — and the demand for such apps only grows.
  5. Apps for healthcare. There is a wide variety of activities, from yoga to meditation, that requires little movement and cannot be tracked using smartwatches — but provides a significant calorie consumption. In addition, people with various pathologies like diabetes need to have their vitals monitored 24/7 and have a distress button at hand to send an alarm to an emergency unit. Thus said, there are multiple medical institutions and fitness providers in need of custom apps that might come coupled with specific wearables or use a standard range of sensors to keep track of the patient’s vitals.

DESIGN THE BASIC MVP FEATURES. Once you have selected the category you want your future app to fall in, it’s time to design and build the basic range of features expected from any type of fitness applications.

  • Log in. You app users must be able to authenticate themselves using a variety of choices, from phone numbers to email addresses and social media accounts.
  • Social media. Sharing the achievements on social media and being gratified for it by family friends motivates the users to keep on pushing and continue training. It is an important feature for any kind of apps.
  • Personalization. Your app must provide users with a personal cabinet where they can input their personal details, choose the imperial or metric measurement system, upload their photos, etc.
  • Connectivity. Ensure your app supports as many APIs as possible and interacts with a wide variety of fitness trackers, smartwatches and other wearable devices like WHOOP bands.
  • Activity monitoring. To keep track of the calorie consumption your app must use the information from the phone or fitness bracelet sensors to count the steps walked, the distance run, the time taken exercising and other data.
  • Geolocation. It is essential to draw the routes on Google maps to showcase the daily achievements to the user’s contact list. There are many more benefits for various industries, so using geolocation is a must for fitness applications.
  • Reminders. Being fit means being regular and following routine schedules. However, it is harder to do when exercising at home. Thus, reminders and push notifications become extremely useful, both for the user and for the emergency unit in case of a stroke.
  • Goal setting. How many kilograms do you want to lose? 5? then you have to walk at least 5 kilometers a day every day for a month. This is an example of a goal-setting feature that helps transform fitness objectives into simple and doable (not always, hehe) goals.
  • Workout plans. Your users must be able to create their personal workout plans or use ready ones from their instructors.
  • Configuration. Various types of apps require different types of configuration, just try to keep your app comprehensive.
  • Gamification. People love to play, so hiding some advanced features behind achievements and granting points for reaching various goals can add another layer of motivation and engagement.
  • AR/VR implementation. As we mentioned above, AR/VR is becoming increasingly popular with fitness apps, but the range of implementation possibilities is limited by the need to purchase VR headsets. However, Google Cardboard VR headsets are freely available and their API is open-source. Let your users train by running in the jungle or along the sea beach, not on a treadmill in their living room.

PREPARE A PROJECT ROADMAP. Once you know what features you want to implement, it’s time to make some estimates and prepare a budget.

  1. Analyze the current fitness app market.
  2. Analyze your main potential competitors
  3. Select the core features for MVP development in order to be competitive
  4. Add some innovative features to help your app stand out
  5. Gain access to a reliable software development team for your project
  6. Prepare rough project estimates and make them more detailed over time
  7. Select the level of investment needed.
  8. Actively discuss, ideate and adjust the future app design with the team
  9. Test the MVP at the end of every sprint to track the project progress
  10. Once the MVP is nearly ready — promote it to potential customers
  11. Publish the app to the app store(s) correctly
  12. Launch marketing campaigns to get better coverage for your app

The last few points can come in any sequence but promoting your app is best left to professionals, who will determine the best timing and approaches to enable a cost-efficient promotion strategy.

How to build a team for MVP development and what specialists do you need for it?

While every product is unique, most of them have similar traits and features. Thus said, if you are a serial entrepreneur, you likely have access to the needed skills already. But if this is going to be your first project, you are far better off working with a reliable team that can cover all the aspects of MVP development.

Of course, you are free to hire freelancers on Upwork or TopTal and try to organize their work remotely, but this will be a very unreliable and time-consuming process, as you would have to act as a product owner, project manager, and team lead in addition to being a startup and promoter for your product. Quite the opposite, working with an established IT outsourcing team removes all the managerial overhead and you can concentrate on securing the investment, growing your audience and attracting more talents in-house.

What specialists do you need for MVP development? A core team includes such specialists:

  • a DevOps engineer to build CI/CD pipelines needed for automating the software delivery
  • UI/UX and graphic designers to prepare mockups for your application interface and use flow
  • Front-end developers to build customer-facing system components
  • Back-end developers to enable interactions with the database, API interactions with external modules and other functionality
  • QA engineers to test all system features
  • Project Manager to coordinate the team effort

Depending on the project scope and technology stack used, you might need to have more than one of such specialists and also employ talents like DBA’s, Big Data scientists and solution architects, VR/AR developers, etc.

Thus said, there is a way to get instant access to a pool of skilled professionals that have the knowledge, polished processes and ready solutions for building high-quality apps quickly. Contact a Managed Services Provider company like IT Svit, who has hundreds of successfully accomplished projects and earned their reputation as a trustworthy IT outsourcing partner, one of the leaders of IT services market in Ukraine.

Most importantly, such a company can provide a team that will grow with your needs, so you will not have to search for additional talents elsewhere and will be able to concentrate on growing your business, not on interviewing the candidates.

What should you do in-house and what tasks can be outsourced

Whoever you and your stakeholders are, you are definitely not newbies in the business and have some expertise under your belt. It would be great if this expertise lied in product promotion and presentation areas, so you can concentrate on that and leave the actual development to professionals. but sometimes entrepreneurs are developers themselves and can partake in actually building the product they want to release.

In that case, it is best to be frank with yourself. If you are a Senior developer and can visualize the architecture of the future product, you only need a designer and a DevOps engineer to make it work — or so you think… Actually, it is better to have a technical call with a specialist the IT outsourcing company suggests to assign to your project, as he/she might actually be more experienced than you and might know of the challenges and roadblocks you might not even imagine yet — as these specialists have accomplished dozens of such projects already. Most importantly, they might have ready solutions applicable for every case, which will save a ton of time and effort and allow you to concentrate on promoting your product, instead of reinventing the wheel. This is quite often the case with IT Svit, and our customers praise this approach for time- and cost-efficiency.

Naturally, there are tasks that cannot be outsourced to anyone, like maintaining the servers with the customer sensitive information, billing and accounting, negotiating with investors, presenting your product (though having a reputable technical expertise as a backup has helped land many rounds of funding), etc. Marketing and promoting your product, building the software and maintaining the infrastructure that run your application — these are the tasks that are mainly outsourced successfully, while sales, billing and negotiations are best done in-house.

How to select the best cloud platform for MVP development (checklist)

It should be pretty obvious by now that if you want your app to use the latest innovative technology, it is best to host it in the cloud from the very beginning. However, choosing the best cloud platform for MVP development is quite a challenge. We provide a checklist of what to take into consideration to ensure cost-efficiency and speed of your future product development.

  1. List all the features your product should have, not only the ones you will include in the MVP.
  2. Consult with your tech team regarding the technology stack needed to build and run those features
  3. Check what of these technologies are supported by major cloud providers
  4. Look at the MVP development platforms available: Amazon CodePipeline, Google Firebase, Google App Engine, IBM Foundry, etc.
  5. Learn the conditions and costs of scaling from the MVP platform to a fully-fledged infrastructure with these providers

All of this can be done yourself before contacting the IT outsourcing team, or you can rely on their advice stemming from hundreds of successful projects. IT Svit prefers building software using AWS, but we are also well-versed with Google App Engine and other possible choices.

How to make your app secure

There are multiple layers of security and features you can use to make your app secure. These involve separate features for every app, design methods and infrastructure-wide policies.

  • Reliable authentication methods and Single Sign-On features help manage security of every user session
  • Building apps for healthcare using microservice architecture ensures independent scalability and security of every component
  • Configuring Docker container security policies enables real-time monitoring and instant alerting
  • Using single-tenant architecture results in a system where each app instance uses a separate database, so even if one instance is breached or fails,the rest work safely
  • Configuring Kubernetes Identity & Access Management policies correctly to limit the user rights within the whole Kubernetes cluster
  • Using cloud provider security features like Amazon CloudWatch or Google Stackdriver provides a convenient dashboard for monitoring your product in production
  • Leveraging CDNs like Amazon CloudFront makes DDoS attacks much less dangerous and using direct DDoS protection services helps reduce this security threat nearly to zero.

Various security aspects can be enabled at different stages of your software delivery lifecycle, but most of them should be planned for in advance, on the product functionality design stage.

How to market and promote your product

Obviously, the initial MVP release is not the finish of the project, it is merely a milestone on the way to success. There are literally thousands of fitness applications on Google and Apple stores, so you need to dedicate some significant effort to marketing and promotion of your product, if you want to succeed. Unfortunately, the ongoing lockdown limits the ways of promotion to online only, as the gyms and various fitness events are not available.

However, online promotion provides a variety of channels, from Google Ads and Facebook retargeting to PPC campaigns, banner ads, paid promotions on influencer blogs, etc. You can try using all of them or partnering with some healthcare initiative, or selling your apps for healthcare to some medical institution.

The most efficient way to market and promote your product is to place the ads where your target audience will definitely see them. However, doing this in the most cost-efficient way requires in-depth knowledge of the reality of advertising. Luckily enough, many MSPs provide product marketing and promotion services in addition to MVP development and infrastructure management.

Conclusions on building apps for gym workouts and apps for healthcare in 2020

We have covered the whole process of development of fitness applications, from ideation and selecting the scope of features to releasing and promoting your MVP. While this roadmap might seem pretty straightforward, success on many of its stages relies heavily on the skill and experience of the specialists that deliver it. This is why it is best to work with trustworthy teams that can provide end-to-end software development services.

IT Svit is such a team and out expertise and attitude are highly appraised in multiple positive customer reviews and independent ratings. You are free to check this out personally — contact us with your ideas and we will be glad to help you transform them into profitable products!



Vladimir Fedak