Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Today workout apps are dominating the health and fitness industry. With over 250k fitness and health apps to choose from, I found myself a bit lost and confused. Not only it’s getting harder and harder to pick one, but I’m also lacking the argumentation on why we should use workout apps instead of traditional gyms. My previous article looked at how to determine the suitability and find a custom fitness app that meets your fitness goals. This article will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages which workout apps have. So I invite you to have an open mind and see why the fitness industry is changing in favor of applications!
Workout Apps that Covers All Kinds of Training
It literarily feels like there’s an app for every fitness training. Whether you’re into boxing, meditation, marathon running or simple bodyweight HIIT at home. Meanwhile, when researching about workout apps on Google, I come across a long, long list of fitness apps that are simply indexed. That means, we can find lists of "Best Fitness Apps" or "Top 10 Fitness Apps for Women" but that's pretty much it. Nothing about what are they, and why we should use them.
Personally, I think it's because, in the past years, workout apps have become so extremely popular that we were too busy promoting them rather than generating sufficient resources that would look at the solutions they bring and the target audience they cover. Besides, one might argue that there's no need explaining what an app is anyway because daaa, we all know it, don't we?! But this is exactly what I'm going to look into today!
Workout Apps vs Traditional Gyms
So let's start with simple statistics. In the US, monthly gym membership averagely costs $58 American Dollars (though, this is highly depended on the location). Meanwhile, in the UK you can sign up for your local gym for averagely £40 British Pounds (52 USD) a month.
Now, if you look at the average cost of a workout app, the charge varies. First of all, unlike gyms that require payment beforehand, some workout apps are free while others cost money. A common practice is an app creating its free version with basic features included (this is the case for apps like Freeletics and Asana Rebel). However, if the user wants more, he can upgrade to a premium for a fee. On average, I would say the workout apps cost anything between $4.99 - $14.99 a month with some exceptions, like SWEAT that costs $19.99 and Nike Training Club that is entirely free.
Not only workout apps are cheaper, but quite frankly they're more convenient too. Most of the gyms are far away and their offering is inflexible (classes are fixed, opening times are not convenient, etc). And let's be honest, sometimes gyms are scary! It's already enough that we see these huge bodybuilders roaring like beasts. Now, we also have to figure out how to insert our feet in this weirdly-looking hanging rope that suppose to train our abs. Nevertheless, gyms do offer interactive personal instructing, the ability to socialize with others and also provides us with all the tools we need for training.
Today we see large fitness chains regrouping. They create their own fitness apps to cover a larger segment, otherwise, workout apps might beat them one day. For instance, Planet Fitness has created its own fitness app which incorporates tracking, extensive workout library, and class schedules.
Cheap, convenient, and comprehensive - these are the main aspects why workout apps are slowly crushing gyms. Workout apps also offer more convenient solutions like shorter classes while not cutting down on results. With a gym, you get access to equipment but with workout apps, you get the convenience. What’s more important to you?
How Many People a Workout App Can Reach?
Well, for starters everything is slowly going mobile. Today over 5 billion have mobile devices (half of those mobile phones are smartphones). According to Worldometers, there are 7.7 (2019) billion people in the world. That means 65% of the world’s population has phones and 36% have smartphones (mostly from advanced economy countries).
Cheap, convenient, and comprehensive - these are the main aspects why workout apps are slowly crushing gyms.
So, if averagely 4 out of 10 people have smartphones, they can technically download a workout app, can't they? Let’s take the US as an example - the statistics show that over 81% of Americans have smartphones. However, only 16% of the countries population actually belongs to a gym. So what does that mean? That means workout apps can cover a larger segment if they actually give the users something that they don't like about gyms - convenience (and here I'm not even touching on smartwatches).
Workout Apps Trends
According to Newzoo and Traffic Habits, workout apps generated $1.78 billion in revenue back in 2016. In addition, by 2021 this number is estimated to reach over $4.1 billion. That's a nearly 57% increase which means that both - world's getting healthier and companies are capitalizing on it. Here are some workout app trends which I have noticed:
You see how workout apps are pushing on convenient sales points like home workouts, bodyweight only workouts, on-demand personal trainer apps, apps that plan your workouts ahead, etc;
Workout apps are getting more and more interactive. They use tailored programs and real-time personal trainers that guide you through your routines. Here, it's also important to note the feedback loops which are used by some apps to adjust your training in case it's too easy/hard;
The technology works together with technology: the ability to sync data with other devices, like wearables or other apps, makes it easier to monitor tracking and follow progress;
Workout apps incorporate food plans made by certified nutritionists (example, 8fit);
More and more apps are created for men too, although the main market is still women. One of the characteristics of an app that's designed for men would include inputting how much weights they've lifted;
By 2022 fitness apps are estimated to grow by 7.6%. In 2018, fitness apps were in 8th place amongst all the popular apps in the Apple App Store.
So far I've briefly illustrated why and how workout apps are taking over the fitness industry. Now, let's look at the advantages and disadvantages that a workout app has.
Benefits of Workout Apps:
Workout apps are generally cheaper than gyms (free options also available). Besides, most apps have a free trial period so you can even try it out before the purchase;
They're easy to follow. Normally, an app creates a custom program for you based on your metrics. So there's not only personalization involved but it's also feasible to incorporate training in your busy lifestyle;
Workout apps reach more people than gyms;
Huge workout library to choose from. Apps like Sworkit or Aaptiv have massive collections of workouts that fit different audience segments like safe pregnancy workouts for moms-soon-to-be, or even senior routines for 50+;
Workout apps are generally more flexible than gyms. Let's say you got held in work or you're off on a business trip - you can literarily do workouts anytime, anywhere;
Also, workout apps allow us to track our progress and create custom programs. It's more transparent than simply just going to the gym and looking at the treadmill.
The Downsides of Workout Apps:
Workout apps are anti-social and you might feel alone. At moments the interactivity suffers (as a result, we see apps like SWEAT trying to incorporate community sections so people could engage with others even from home);
You might reach a point where you've tried all the workouts that app offers. Then it's time to either re-do workouts or change apps;
The huge selection makes it really hard to find OUR app;
Sometimes a tech bug can ruin your workout. Either the app gets stuck or it crashes;
If you have a small apartment like me, you might be short on space. You also can't really jump around and play loud music as you would normally do in the gym;
Some apps require equipment. In addition, for progress and actual results, weight lifting is recommended. If you're doing body-weight only, you might hit a wall, meaning that you stop seeing results. That is why a transition into powerlifting is required, but for this, you need to purchase equipment;
Workout apps are not as immersive as gyms. You associate the gym with training while a home is more for relaxing and family. Sometimes the transition can be challenging;
There’s a higher chance to injure yourself if you go with an inappropriate workout app that is not suitable for your age, fitness level or fitness background. The biggest issue I see is some apps ignore warm-ups and cool-downs. Also, some are lacking instructions on how to do the exercise correctly. That is why it is extremely important to find an app that's the most suitable for you and not just going with something that everybody downloads.
Final Thoughts on Why Use Fitness Apps
Today’s mobile technology allows us to create everything from audio-based workouts to tailored workouts, and more. How I see it, workout apps are great if you're busy, have no time and looking for cost-efficient, sustainable ways to workout.
As for the apps themselves, we see more and more start-ups designing a workout app that really niche-oriented and solves a particular problem. The operating costs for running an app is way less then what a traditional gym usually pays. So in the future, I'm expecting a huge increase in both demand and supply.
What I like is that workout apps incorporate the newest training techniques and styles. They also allow the user to determine the workout length, location, and equipment. This selection and convenience make the product even more attractive to users. Workout apps are breaking down barriers for high-quality personal coaching and custom programs because now everybody can afford it. Those things that were expensive before are now one download away for a much cheaper price. The urge of immediacy and problem solution is so strong that the industry is now dictated by trends, not exclusivity.
Personally, I use workout apps even at the gym because my gym has no classes available. Similarly to others, I also first thought that you cannot really get a sweaty workout routine from an app, but this soon changed as I started to test more and more workouts apps. Until today, my favorite one is the Nike Training Club and Fitness Blender.
Check out the section on workout apps to finally find a workout app that matched your needs!