In this blog post I want to balance out some of the enthusiasm that I put into the previous two articles in the series on mobile fitness apps. This article changes gears somewhat; it’s a discussion about where the boundaries lie in mobile computing, in support of fitness businesses. I have already given the case for having apps and now I would just like to mention some of the characteristics and limits that define what mobile apps are and what they can do.
A Fork In The Road
Mobile friendly websites are not the same as mobile applications. The web can help potential members discover your business; a dedicated mobile fitness app is a tool for engaging with members who already buy in to your service. Gym Insight’s website component is mobile enabled; you can use it from a mobile browser with very little trouble or loss of functionality, which is ideal for gym management.
Mobile websites adapt your website content to fit the constraints of a mobile device screen. They are made in the same code as a webpage on your desktop. They load as you open them and then drop out when you close the browser or when you link away from them.
Mobile applications require that users agree to commit to downloading the application permanently; they can stay running in the background and monitor user location or other data as directed. They can be used to push out messages to members at your convenience. Members can get more involvement out of apps by giving more information.
Where mobile apps shine is when you want to give members access to features and share information with your gym community. Pushing out information through a mobile app gives lots of potential for things like last minute marketing of open slots in training schedules and classes.
Club industry notes that you can have functions for check-ins, class information and registration, training sessions and workout logs, up-to-date club news, reviews and referrals, as well as being a portal for contact with every department in the club and social media.
Do You Even Need To Set Up A Mobile Fitness App?
There is an interesting statistic floating around the Internet that says the average mobile device and smart phone user does not download new apps very often, if at all. Users appear to begin as they intend to go on. That is, they download apps initially and then don’t go hunting for further functionality, once they get comfortable.
However, eighty percent of your members are likely to have a smart enabled mobile device on them as they workout. Therefore the biggest effort after you create an app is going to be getting the members to use it.
Custom apps cost a lot of money. From my research they appear to start in the low five-figured domain and go upward from there. Connecting with members through a mobile fitness app might be inevitable but you don’t want to be too much of a pioneer. That can turn out very quickly to be an expensive mistake.
You can buy white label apps that can be adapted to your brand. The one shortcoming with white label is that you still have to set it up and apply enough design skill so that it mirrors your brand effectively. The cost of contracting an agency to customize an app might be a poor allocation of resources.
Expanding The Gym Insight Model
So far, the website based functionality of Gym Insight has worked well for all of the gym management objectives and features that a club owner could wish for. A dedicated mobile fitness application would cross the line into sharing with the members. So, gym owners can have all of that powerful extra information, but it requires a big investment and an even bigger commitment.
What I would like to know from readers is whether you would find the information that you could get from a dedicated app to be worth the cost? If there were an Insight app would you want to set it up with your brand and then build your marketing around it? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Hay Newman, Lily. Study: People Don’t Want More Apps. August 25, 2014. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/08/25/a_comscore_study_shows_that_most_people_download_zero_new_apps_per_month.html (accessed August 25, S014).
Industry, Club. Health Club Mobile Apps Drive Revenue. August 1, 2014. http://clubindustry.com/resourcebeat/health-club-mobile-apps-drive-revenue (accessed August 27, 2014).
Khandavalli, Kishore. How To Successfully Merge A Mobile App With Your Brand . 2014. http://www.seventablets.com/how-to-successfully-merge-a-mobile-app-with-your-brand/ (accessed August 26, 2014).
Summerfield, Jason. Mobile Website vs. Mobile App (Application): Which is Best for Your Organization? 2014. http://hswsolutions.com/services/mobile-web-development/mobile-website-vs-apps/(accessed August 26, 2014).
Tokildson, Adam. Mobile App vs Mobile Website – Which is Right For Your Business? January 22, 2014. http://www.searchenginejournal.com/mobile-app-vs-mobile-website-right-business/85887/ (accessed August 26, 2014).