How Mobile Apps Are Transforming the Gym World

The world is trending in a mobile direction.

Mobile applications are penetrating every industry, and the fitness industry is no exception.

If you own a gym or you’re a personal trainer, you need to have a mobile app.

That goes for every type of gym, including gyms for weightlifting, boxing, mixed martial arts training, basketball, swimming, CrossFit, and every other type of fitness specialty. Even your yoga studio can benefit from a mobile app.

There’s no fitness business that’s too big or too small for a mobile app. Whether you’re a solo personal trainer or own a chain of gyms across the country, you need an app.

Fortunately, if you’re reading this, it sounds like you’ve already identified the possibility of getting an app. You might even be in the development phases or have a gym app that just launched.

That’s great news. This guide will also help you improve your gym app, engage with your customers, and get more people to download your app.

It’s also an educational tool for anyone who is on the fence about building an app for your gym.

Mobile apps are transforming the gym world. 58% of people with a smartphone have downloaded an app related to health and fitness.

I’ll explain why you need one and how your app can be used to make more money. Here’s what you need to know.

Mobile apps help gyms acquire new customers

Think about your existing target market and customer acquisition strategy. I’m willing to bet that your current and prospective members are tech-savvy.

They’re using mobile applications on a daily basis. Having a mobile app available in the app store will help you connect with people before they even step into your doors.

Take a look at how the vast majority of people discover apps.

how people discover apps

So people are browsing the app store on a daily basis to fulfill their needs. This can create a larger exposure for your gym.

Think about your current customer acquisition strategy. How do you get customers to sign up for a gym membership?

You need them to walk through your doors. They say that they’re interested and you give them a tour. You’ve got to rely on your staff to give them a great tour and pitch a valuable offer.

But if your staff isn’t trained properly and something goes wrong during the tour, it could turn people away from joining. Plus, gyms can be intimidating, especially for a prospective member.

The number one reason why people don’t go to the gym is for the fear of being judged. Having a personal trainer who is in great shape give gym tours can hurt the self-esteem of someone who may want to join.

They may feel like they are out of place and won’t fit in. Even if the tour goes well, then the new customer has to sit down and go through a lengthy sign-up process. If you’ve ever joined a gym, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But with a mobile app, people can discover your gym and sign up without having to come in. Provide pictures and videos to showcase a virtual tour. This is convenient for the customer and makes things easier for you as well.

You don’t have to worry about wasting time on tours and having to staff extra members of a sales team. Your employees can spend their time doing other tasks instead.

When someone wants to get in shape, they can search for the kind of gym that they’re looking for in the app store. Then they’ll get connected with your location. Maybe they didn’t even know you existed before.

This is great for all gyms, but it’s especially important for gyms in niche markets. Having an app will also help improve your reputation.

improve reputation

As you can see from the data, people read reviews before downloading an app.

So when a user browsing the app store comes across your app, they’ll see your ratings and reviews. This shows them that you’re legitimate.

Your gym app will improve the customer experience

Mobile apps are convenient for your members.

Your app can eliminate the need for your customers to carry around a key tag or membership card. Instead, they can have a membership barcode within the app get it scanned whenever they enter your location.

The app can also be used for members to manage their payment method. They can easily change credit cards directly within the app.

They may feel more secure about this than having to give their credit card information to one of your employees at the gym or to a representative over the phone. Plus, people don’t want to have to bring their wallets with them to work out.

Set up your mobile app to give members relevant information. Upload your weekly class schedules. Here’s an example of what that can look like.

class schedule

Think about your current method of promoting classes. Lots of gyms have schedules posted on the walls or have flyers available for members to take home.

But those can easily get misplaced and they won’t be available in the members pocket at all times like their smartphone is.

Plus, sometimes things happen. If a class gets canceled or an instructor gets changed, all of this information could be updated in the app. But you can’t update the schedule on a piece of paper that’s in the glove compartment of your member’s car.

An app is great if you upcharge members for attending classes. They can sign up to attend the class and get charged instantly using their card on file in the app.

Use this platform as a way for members to manage leagues as well, such as basketball or racquetball.

People participating in these leagues can have access to standings, teams, game schedules, and everything else that they need to know.

When it comes to improving the customer experience, you’ve got to consider why people are at the gym in the first place. They join and show up to get in shape.

People use wearable technology to maximize their fitness experience. It’s estimated that there will be 560 million units of wearable devices by 2021.


If your app can support these wearable devices, such as a Fitbit, it will be great for your customers. Their fitness progress can be tracked and monitored with every workout.

They can always refer back to this information as well to get a more personalized workout experience.

Leverage other mobile apps to promote your brand

Look around your gym. How many people are using their phones right now?

If members aren’t in the middle of a set or taking a class, I’m willing to bet they are staring at their phone. In fact, research shows that more than half of gym members use their smartphone during a workout.

They’re checking emails, communicating with friends, listening to music, and even posting about their workouts on social media.

There is a reason why people like to post about their workouts on social media. No, it’s not just to brag and show off to their friends. It’s because it holds them accountable.

According to research conducted by the Dominican University of California, 70% of people who shared their fitness goals with friends were able to reach their goal. Only 35% of people reached their fitness goal if they didn’t share it with their friends.

Your members are posting progress pictures, sharing their workouts, and telling their social media followers what they’re eating and drinking to prepare for these workouts.

They’re even taking pictures and videos of themselves while they’re working out at your gym.

If you properly brand your gym, then you can encourage your members to give you free advertising through user-generated content.

Check out how LA Fitness uses their Instagram account to increase exposure, create brand awareness, and engage with their members.

la fitness

You can run contests, giveaways, and other promotions as well. If you increase your social media following, you can use that platform as a way to drive traffic to your mobile app and get more downloads.

So encourage your members to use your app, as well as other mobile apps while they’re working out at your gym.

Micro influencers thrive using mobile content

Piggybacking off of our last point, you should try to identify your customers with lots of social media followers.

You can use these members as a tool to help promote and enhance your app as well as your other marketing content.

They’re already active on social platforms, so get them on your app too. You can hire a micro influencer to promote your brand without having to spend too much money.

Instead of paying them, you can even try to negotiate a discounted membership or a couple of months for free instead of giving them money. All they need to do is post on social media to promote your brand and mobile app.

Here’s a great example of this strategy from James Tollefson’s Instagram account.


James is a fitness enthusiast with nearly 14k Instagram followers. People like this are great candidates for promoting your gym.

82% of people are likely to follow recommendations from micro influencers. That’s because they have higher engagement rates with their followers.

Using a micro influencer to promote your gym and app can increase buying conversions by more than 22%.

So scan through social media posts to see who is posting pictures at your gym. If you find out that some of your members have tons of followers, reach out them and see if they would be willing to work with you to promote your app.

Videos can help improve engagement on your app

Creating an app is only the beginning. You’ve got to make sure that your content is relevant and legitimate.

You shouldn’t just build the app and forget about it. Upload videos on a regular basis to keep your content fresh and users engaged.

There are so many different options for you to consider here.

Use videos to show different workout demonstrations. Explain how to use proper form for different exercises, lifts, and other fitness moves.

You could even try to get one of those micro influencers, who we just discussed, to participate in these videos. If not, you can always just use your personal training staff to demonstrate.

Videos can be a great way to promote your personal brand, especially if you have a small gym or private practice. You can even broadcast classes via live video through your app.

live video

This is an even more effective approach than using social media posts as a promotional method.

The great thing about videos for your mobile app is that they can be used for other content as well. You can add those same video demonstrations to your website, social platforms, and even include them in your email marketing strategy.

Use all of these platforms simultaneously to promote each other and your brand. This will help you get more people to download your app as well.

Establishing a fitness community

Your members are all going to the gym for the same reason. They want to better their lives, improve their bodies, and maintain a healthy mind.

Your app can serve as a platform to connect with each other.

Allow your members to upload photos and share success stories on a community message board within the app.

They can track their workouts and offer advice to new members or anyone else who wants to get help.

These features will add a social element to your app. It gives people a reason to come back every day to see what their gym friends are saying.

It can also be used as a motivational tool for your members.

Use your app to upsell and make more money

Send discounts and other promotional offers to your members via push notifications.

As we briefly discussed earlier, you can try to get them to pay more money by signing up for certain classes.

Consumers want to receive push notifications that include special offers and promotions.

special offer

You can also promote products like t-shirts, hats, backpacks and other merchandise that might be available for purchase at your gym.

Try to drive sales to your juice bar by offering discounts for protein shakes, smoothies, and energy bars. All of these extra sales can increase your profits on the year.

Set it up so that members can pay for merchandise or items at the juice bar using the app. That way they won’t have to worry about taking cash or credit cards with them to the gym for a workout.


Your gym needs a mobile app.

The app will help you get more customers and make the sign-up process even easier.

Use the app features to improve the customer experience. Understand how they’re using other apps while they’re working out and leverage that behavior to drive downloads to your app.

You can work with micro influencers to promote your brand as well as your mobile app.

Set up a community board where app users can communicate with each other, upload content, and offer motivation.

You can upsell app users by promoting merchandise, food, and drinks via push notifications from your app.

The gym world is trending in a mobile direction. If you can’t keep up with the trends, it’s going to be hard for your business to survive moving forward.

How is your gym using a mobile application to increase profits and improve the member experience?

Nic Hughart

Nic is the VP of Sales at BuildFire. He's a proven sales leader with 20+ years of experience in SMB, MM & ENT level sales markets, with more than a decade in the SaaS segment. Nic specializes in leadership, hiring, training, developing, and optimizing growing sales teams.