From calorie counters and step trackers, technology has been supporting the fitness and diet industry for quite some time already. Now, worldwide lockdowns and social distancing pushed digital fitness to the forefront. During the first half of 2020, health and fitness app downloads grew by 46% worldwide.
The most challenging part, however, is not even to get users to download your app but to motivate them to use it, especially in the long run. Savvy fitness app development companies know that the best way to stay on the users’ radar is through delivering highly engaging experiences to keep users come back for more. And gamification is the name of the game (pun unintended).
Fitness and gamification are indeed match made in heaven. To prove the point, we have collected five strategies that you can implement to help your fitness app stand out while boosting users’ motivation.
1. Storytelling technique
No matter how different we all are, there’s one thing we have in common — we all enjoy a good story. The entire entertainment industry is based on stories — movies, TV shows, books, and plays, and don’t we know how addictive a good TV series can be.
Fitness apps can capitalize on that innate love for stories and incorporate a narrative to turn a workout routine into an adventure. That’s what Zombies, Run! does. Through audio storytelling, this mobile exergame immerses you in the middle of an apocalypse where you have to run from zombies and complete missions. What’s more, the main storyline currently has 8 seasons, with more to come.
Challenges can also be a great form of motivation as most of us are naturally competitive to some degree. A friendly competition with ourselves or with our friends, family members, and co-workers drives ambition and encourages us to meet our fitness goals.
A leading running app with tens of millions of downloads, Nike+ Run Club allows users to push themselves in individual challenges or run with the entire community in community challenges. The users can also create their own custom challenges and invite friends to battle it out.
3. Complexity levels
Those who play games really enjoy upgrading their characters and unlocking new levels. You can also tap into this game mechanic to make exercising fun and rewarding. By accumulating experience or achieving specific goals, users can access enhanced functionality or move to the next level.
Fitocracy makes good use of this gamified element. Among other things, Fitocracy awards point for every activity logged in the app. The points awarded may differ from task to task, depending on the complexity. As users earn their points, the progress bar fills up and they level up.
4. Badges and rewards
Rewards are a universal and very familiar motivator. Nothing boosts a sense of accomplishment like a shiny trophy — or at least a digital badge on the leaderboard.
Awards, badges, certificates are all very popular among fitness apps. Fitbit, for example, offers as many as 100 badges for a variety of achievements. Some fitness apps take the reward system even further and offer real prizes and incentives for working out. Achievement allows users to earn points for walking, biking, meditating, and other activities and then redeem points for cash or charities.
5. Augmented and virtual reality
If your budget allows, think about spicing up your fitness app with AR or VR features. By combining value and entertainment, AR and VR technology can supercharge any fitness routine while making your app stand out from the crowd.
One such example of an AR-enabled fitness app is AR runner. This sports game encourages users to break a sweat by placing virtual checkpoints and having users run through them, setting records.
With the ability to immerse users into computer-generated environments, VR takes exercising to a completely new level. All fitness enthusiasts need is a VR headset, and they can work out practically anywhere in the world. VZfit, for instance, allows cyclists to ride along the scenic routes of Iceland or California.
They say the best workout is the one you actually did. But sustaining long-term willpower and motivation to exercise regularly is the most difficult part of any fitness journey.
Gamification can not only bring that much-needed motivation back but also keep your fitness app top of mind for users as a fun and exciting way to squeeze exercise into their daily routine. An interesting narrative, global challenges, or real-life rewards are all an easy-to-implement but effective way to boost engagement. Or you can take it up a notch and introduce immersive AR and VR experiences to capitalize on human love for games while encouraging positive health and fitness changes.