AUGUST 20, 2019
11 min read
It is no surprise that fitness and sport are so popular. Physical activity is natural for people. People are looking for two things to feed their soul. These things are inspiration and connection. In a technological society, sport meets many personal intentions. For example, to look physically attractive, stay healthy, and fit, establish your mind and body connection. Fitness is not only about health, and well-being, but it is also a pleasure of movement, controlling and strengthening your body. Also, fitness is a social activity as well. There is so much that seems out of our control that we want to feel empowered. We want to feel like we can achieve, we can do more, we can be bigger than the circumstances or life situations. In fitness-oriented societies, much of this is “soul food” is being filled by our connection to group fitness. We want to feel like we are a part of something, connected to something, connected to somebody or some group. We can fulfill our needs in communication, connect with like-minded people, collaborate, share our achievements, and even compete. Sport is not only a popular life sphere, but it is also a business. Fitness service providers are making money on satisfying the mentioned people’s needs in movement and communication. To succeed in this domain for business means to find a balance between all participants’ objectives. This article is about the birth and implementation of the idea of FitGrid — a business app to match the intentions of fitness studios, inspectors, and clients.
“Alliances and partnerships produce stability when they reflect realities and interests.”
The idea of a fitness app based on reality
The worldwide research on fitness trends revealed that people tend to like wearables, group training, employing certified fitness professionals, personal training, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and yoga.
What impact do these trends have for business? Trends reflect the way people live and what they value.
The wearables are fashionable devices designed for comfort and convenience. They track, measure, and notify about important users’ indexes and achievements. When you are overwhelmed with tonnes of information, you may miss something vital for your wellness. Wearables help users to keep focused and save time. They remind about goals and monitor progress and help to demonstrate individuality. The popularity of wearables shows that people want to know their achievements or progress and access their health information immediately and easily.
The favor of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) reflects the desire to stay healthy but in the conditions of intense life schedule. People are ready to face tough but shorter training that does not require additional equipment several times a week, instead of long full-time training. It is also a time-saving option.
The other trend is employing certified fitness professionals. People want to learn from experts. They entrust their health, minds, and bodies to those who are competent. It means that if you are an instructor, you will look for opportunities to grow. For this reason, fitness studios should care about their staff skills and performance.
The choice of group and personal training shows a need for communication and social activity. The majority of people prefer having workouts in groups, but the personal touch is also valuable. Many fitness lovers use a mixed approach to training. They exercise both in groups and take individual classes as well.
Among the fitness types, yoga has a stable rate of popularity for the last five years. The key secret is its mind and body connecting experience and almost universal applicability. There are many schools and poses so that every person can find the one that fits personal needs. You can find yoga classes for kids, pregnant women, older adults, early risers, and so on.
To generalize the trends, clients perceive fitness as
- a tandem of physical and social activity,
- a way of self-expression,
- a goal-oriented activity with trackable results, and
- a sphere compatible with their lifestyles, especially with constant lack of time and traveling a lot.
Activities such as yoga, barre, boot camp, high intensity interval training (HIIT), spin/cycling, and even MMA (Mixed martial arts) put people into environments where they can lose themselves for an hour, surrounded by a coach who pushes them to be their very best, and like-minded people who often develop into a community.
Business is about making money by providing people with what they require. As we see from the research, clients expect that studios hire fitness professionals and they would like to have an opportunity to train in groups or individually. A fitness studio should find a balance between the achievement of business goals, management of employees, and satisfying client demands.
Such organizations as SoulCycle create a unique experience. The mentioned is a high-end, spin studio features dark rooms with rows of sweaty, dedicated cyclists spinning in time to the beat of a master spin instructor whose chosen music and intermittent exhortations to push harder, overgrow yourself, get up that hill, give the clients feeling energized, motivated, and capable of walking through walls by the time they leave.
From the hard job made together along with personal support, this is where the emotional connection is grown with the clients. The key to such experience is the “pied piper”, the motivator, and cheerleader … the instructor. This is whom the clients respond to and care about most. This is who they want to hear from. In countries like the United States, instructors are almost mini-celebrities. They are therapists, motivational speakers, and the best friend you never had, all rolled into one.
From the business side, this connection is business value. Instructors could and should be leveraged to create a deeper connection with clients, increase retention, and therefore, increase revenue. But in real life, they aren’t — at least to their fullest extent. There are many reasons for this, but probably the largest is that it’s simply quite time-consuming for them to do that. At least it used to be… until FitGrid Pro.
How may technology help a business to progress at all the directions?
The answer is to bring business processes online 24/7.
The idea of FitGrid belongs to Ntiedo Etuk, an entrepreneur who is fond of fitness. He wanted to create a solution that satisfies the demands of all sides of the fitness industry. Dashdevs was a software solution partner that helped to implement the idea. FitGrid is a software suite and consolidates three tools.
- FitGrid Studio Dashboard — an admin panel for fitness studios to track the performance.
- FitGrid Pro — a mobile app for instructors to connect them with the studio and with clients.
Business value of building connections in a fitness app
FitGrid Studio Dashboard targets business owners. Fitness studio clients like to work with a professional instructor. Their interest in the group or personal training reveals the value of human communication. As you start to train your body with the core muscles, FitGrid Studio allows your studio to start with monitoring key indexes of performance. You can compare the instructors’ performance and your studios’ rates. It is a tool that collects information from different sources: Mindbody platform, FitGrid Pro, and FitGrid Client apps. A business owner can track the generated reports on this Dashboard and can make data-driven decisions. Knowing where you are at the moment, may help to improve, grow, and conquer your competitors. FitGrid Studio helps you to track the performance of all your locations if you own several studios. You can manage your staff, set personal goals for every instructor, and check how they progress.
The admin interface displays instructors’ profitability, retention rate, and client connection rate.
Features of a fitness app: FitGrid Studio
- One source of data on all studios and locations.
- Reports on instructors’ retention and profitability.
- Comparison charts of instructors’ efficiency for all locations.
- Statistics on classes and clients.
- Tracking of retention for several timeframes.
- The list of your instructors.
- Setting goals for instructors.
- Activation and invitation of new instructors.
- Deactivation of instructors.
- Statistics on follow-ups sent by instructors for the last and current week.
- Follow-up stats and template management.
- Integration with Mindbody.
- Adding/ Deleting administrators to manage Dashboard.
- Sending broadcasting messages.
Behind its comprehensive interface, FitGrid Studio servers receive and process data from several sources. If your studio has the Mindbody profile, Dashboard aggregates data from the platform, along with data input via the apps for instructors and clients.
FitGrid Studio is a dashboard that connects a business owner with studios, employees, and monitors overall performance in one place.
Powerful ties of common interest for a fitness app
FitGrid Pro is one part of a community management system built to help connect the members of boutique fitness studios together because the connection of people with each other is what drives increased retention and sense of community. FitGrid Pro is an app for fitness instructors. People prefer to train in groups or personally guided by a skilled guru. They need a personal touch. It is the same as mastering your body. When you know the basics and have your core muscles in good shape, you can proceed with gaining more ambitious results. It is up to an instructor, to empower a client for the next achievement, the next workout. A fitness trainer can build trust and a positive spirit. Motivating is hard to do without information. Instructors need to know what a studio expects from them. They should pay attention to clients preferences. A professional instructor may work for several studio locations and have numerous classes. Missing something important is easy when a schedule is tight.
FitGrid Pro gives instructors who are invited to use it by their studio the functionality that saves time and helps to build a uniquely personal experience. The app consolidates data about studios, classes, and clients for an instructor.
Features of a fitness app: FitGrid Pro
- Schedule of classes, so instructors know what is going to be next.
- Access to class lists, so instructors can see who’s coming ahead of time.
- Overview of the class stats with demographic breakdowns, so instructors can customize the workout for the types of clients who are coming.
- Making and sharing notes about clients, so instructors can understand their individual specifics.
- Task lists, so instructors can know what they should say to highlighted clients who walk in the door.
- Follow-up messages, so instructors can send personalized messages to motivate, inspire, or encourage clients, simply and easily.
- Follow-up templates to save some time and create messages quicker.
- Follow-up messages analytics to know whether clients read the messages.
- In-studio messaging capability, so that managers, staff, and instructors can communicate with each other, all in one place, and do away with rarely viewed Facebook groups, confusing email threads, or long text chains.
- Performance report with returning rate, open rate. The effectiveness of all the listed above efforts is recorded and sent back to the owner and manager of the studio.
- Performance comparison with overall studio results and top instructors.
- Benchmarking report to compare with average performance on the studio or the other instructors.
- The list of colleges from the studios, where the instructor is working.
- The retention rate for several timeframes.
Appeal of personal conversation in a fitness app
FitGrid Pro connects instructors with their studios and clients. FitGrid Pro aims to give the instructor all the tools and information they need to put on their best performance, and so far, to succeed. The app allows planning and sending personal follow-up messages that motivate and inspire clients. The clients turn back to the studio and classes if they feel that this studio or instructor cares about them. The real-life usage of the tool has demonstrated increases in the retention rate of 20% and the amount of clients in studios, proving the power of connection.
“Fitness is a people business. When you walk into a class, you are more likely to return the more connected you are to the people around you — whether that’s the other clients or the instructor. But you are most likely to return if that being at the front of the room leaves you motivated, inspired, and brimming with confidence or peace.”
Nt Etuk, FitGrid founder
Energy and strength of cooperative fitness app development
Building a software network with the sci-tech crew. A founder of FitGrid is almost an ideal product owner. He is open-minded and stands on the same approach that we in Dashdevs value. The product should fit the real clients’ needs, perform stable, and be technologically advanced. That is why the idea, hypothesis, and design was tested with the focus groups. The market and competitors analysis was conducted. The apps statistic is analyzed. Feedback reviews, statistics, and data from research help to keep the app updated after the release. To build great connecting experience, our developers have carefully selected appropriate technologies, created complicated searching algorithms, delivered a massive amount of processed data from the backend to user interfaces.
A fitness app, FitGrid, from the inside
FitGrid Pro — the app for Android and iOS built on React Native.
- One team of developers for two platforms in parallel development.
- Extremely comprehensive and responsive interface.
- A massive amount of data is processed on the backend and displayed in various reports.
- Analytics and Google Analytics was integrated to monitor the activity of app users.
For our Dashdev’s sci-tech crew, FitGrid has become a valuable experience of developing complex software.
- Execution complexity project. We have been involved in this project, connecting three parts: admin panel, clients’ app, and instructors’ app, into one software solution, with a team of 15 experts for a year and a half.
- Issues solving expertise. We have learned how to develop hybrid apps compatible with native apps. At the start of the FitGrid development, we had one expert with React Native skills, and now, due to market demands for this technology, our React Native department has grown up to 5 developers.
- Mobile messaging protocols evaluation. Implementing the messaging functionality, we had researched different options, technologies, frameworks, and protocols to find the option that fits FitGrid’s requirements. It was a challenge because our initial predictions (PubNub protocol) did not match the reality, and we switched to the other option — XMPP. Our knowledge base has been extended, and we implemented our expertise in other projects with the messaging functionality.
“Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way.”
Recall the state when you have just finished your workout. You feel tired but energetic. Power and gratitude overwhelm you. Your body has moved in tune with your mind. It is the balance of calmness and acceptance of life in its fullness. The same is with the fitness app that covers the needs of all sides: business, instructors, and clients, implemented in the synergy of FitGrid tools: FitGrid Dashboard, FitGrid Pro, and… FitGrid Client. Stay tuned for the next app in our Fitness meets Tech series, FitGrid Client, where we explore the other side of the fitness connection equation — client-to-instructor and client-to-client.
There is a saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” FitGrid is about the connection with people’s health, minds, bodies, classes, instructors, and studios. Having an idea is not enough if you want a result. You need somebody who can help you to embody that idea, and you need advocates who will share your vision. Dashdevs is a full-cycle software development partner. We know how to connect the idea with technology and expertise and deliver useful software in full integrity.