Hosting Online Workouts Part 2: What About Fitness Apps?

Connected Fitness

The first part looked at the components under the covers in fitness apps, and now we start looking at specific options that fitness creators (boutiques, gyms, trainers and influencers) can use to take their workouts online.

I’m going to focus in the rest of this blog series on apps that let you live stream classes or offer them as Video On Demand (VOD), not apps for schedules / class bookings / billings.  The latter are (in general) more simple, and most gyms and studios use existing gym management SaaS offerings like Mindbody, Glofox, PushPress, Mariana Tek, etc.  Fitness influencers tend to not use these platforms, so they use different fitness apps focussed on influencers or they “build their own” apps.

A key research area that Tribe has been looking at is what offerings (linked to brand and experience) are usually really willing to pay for in online workouts.  There’s so much free content out there on YouTube and Instagram, the experience needs to be compelling to get money - which means a mix of brand, interactivity (especially bringing accountability or competition) and production quality.

I’m going to describe options in the following categories over the rest of this blog series:

  1. Broad Technology Platforms:  These are all the giant companies most people have heard of - YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Zoom, etc.  They have really great products, but they are building for general use cases, not specifically for fitness, so there aren’t any fitness-specific functionalities or optimizations.  All the digital pure play fitness vendors like Peloton, Tonal, Mirror, Hydrow, Apple Fitness+, etc - none of them use these broad technology platforms in their digital workout experiences, but instead they use similar building blocks from companies like Amazon (see part 1 of this series).
  2. Fitness Specific Apps:  These are apps and marketplaces designed specifically for fitness, but they don’t support white labeling or enterprise integration with gym management systems, etc.  Many of them are focused on helping individual trainers go online, cutting the studios and gyms out of the equation.  At Tribe, we think that local boutique studios will be an important part of the future of fitness, because we think that post Covid people are going to go back to the communities and local studios they know, with an expectation of hybrid options where they can workout in studio or from home - both.
  3. White Labeled Fitness Apps:  These are app platforms that tend to focus more on studios, including gym management functionality (either directly or by integration) and white labeled apps to help studios control the branding experience for their customers.  At Tribe we put ourselves in this bucket.
  4. Custom Fitness Apps:  This is where you really build a set of fitness mobile apps “from scratch” with a custom software development consultancy.  It’s going to cost from $50K to $250K+ for the version 1 product, taking 3 to 12 months to build, so as a fitness creator you want to really understand what you’re getting yourself in for if you go this path.  The worst case scenario is you spend $50K developing a very basic app that has plenty of technical issues (bugs), and is a much worse experience than what you could have got for a tiny fraction of the price from a white labeled fitness app vendor.

Both fitness specific apps and white labeled fitness apps can have lots of functionality specific to the fitness industry - like wearable integration, calorie leaderboards, commercial music options, form analysis, etc.

What follows in the next thrilling installments of this blog series is a market summary of each of the four categories listed above.  The list below doesn’t include all of the companies that support doing online workouts, but it’s a good representative list.  If you feel like we missed one that’s important, let us know and we’ll add it.

Justin Marston

Thinker, writer, innovator, runner, Star Wars fan

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