Who wins — gyms or fitness apps?

gym vs. fitness app research

It’s here.

That blaring, loud sound. Cursing your annoyingly, cheerful alarm, you fumble for the ‘X”, knocking your phone to the floor as you turn it off. Sleep-filled eyes make out the time.

5:07 am.

Time to move. 

But — where are you headed — an app or the gym?

Option #1: The gym.

Keys in hand, you head to the car.

And, like 100,000 other demographically balanced consumers, arrive at Anytime Fitness. This top global gym franchise has an overall trending rank of 29, up 6% from last month.

But, why?

Who wins — gyms or fitness apps?

Good question.

With so many fitness options — you’re probably wondering why Anytime Fitness seems to be blowing away the competition.

Here’s a hunch.

It has to do with three things: cleanliness, convenience, and closeness. When it comes to choosing a gym, that’s really what matters.1 Bonus points, of course, if the gym is locally owned. After all, if feels better to give money to a person, over a corporation.

Anytime Fitness has all four — and has been a Top Global Franchise for 14 straight years.2

Here’s another thing.

September wasn’t a big month for people to be thinking about fitness. You can see gym use is down at all other gyms: 24 Hour Fitness, Orangetheory, Planet Fitness, and LA Fitness.

But, not Anytime Fitness.

See, without the other 4 locations to look at, you could chalk this trend up to the holidays. You might even say people are less likely to work out in the fall and winter months. Except, Anytime Fitness doesn’t fit the mold. So, you need a whole new lens. One that includes …

Customer experience.

Fitness app

You already know 86% will pay more for a better customer experience. People are pretty motivated to pay for what they feel is a great deal. That theory seems to work at Anytime Fitness; they’re now the world’s-fastest-growing fitness club for a 7th year in a row.

So, whether you’re selling products3 — or a service – customer experience is still king. 

But, let’s back up.

Say you didn’t decide to go to the gym this morning. Instead, you picked up your phone and went for a fitness app. How would the customer experience come into play here?

Let’s take a look.  

Option #2: Fitness app.

There it is.

You unlock your phone and scroll over to Planet Fitness. After pushing back the living room coffee table, and moving your son’s shoes, you hit play. Instant workout.

This is how 100,000 demographically balanced consumers get fit.

Who wins — gyms or fitness apps?

There’s more.

You can see they’re health-conscious too. Google Fit and S Health are apps to monitor your calories, steps, heart rate and more. They’re being used with more frequency – as is Calorie Counter — than Planet Fitness.

But, why?

It could be that given the busy season of the holidays, people are more likely to track calories than they are to open a gym app. Or, they’re more interested in eating healthy in general.

Either way, health apps are trending down.

Gym use, on the other hand, shows a higher overall trending rank in the first graph. Meanwhile, Fitbit is trending down, more than the other fitness apps in the graph above. This may have to do with Apple, as the lines between smartphone and fitness tracker, have really started to blur.4


Well, as Steve Jobs famously said…

“You’ve got to start with Customer Experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

For years, Apple has done a very good job on the customer experience. Yet, if we compare the use of health apps to the gyms, it seems as though gyms are making a come back. The value of having fitness at your fingertips is there — but the nostalgia of the gym is hard to break.

For now, consumers are happy to head back to the gym.

Now what?

You tap into consumer behavior. 

Especially now. Since the pandemic started, your consumers have had to process so much change. They’re lost. Many are still trying to figure out what they want, when and why. 

This is your chance to help them, before your competition does.

Don’t get left behind.


Stay on top of their trends. 

Find out what your buyers want. See where they’re shopping, what apps they use, and what websites they’ve hit. Use the data to build a profile of your target market. Then, find out why they took certain actions in a survey. Once you know what they want, you can build it.

That’s how you win.

Get started with a 7-day free trial


  1. https://www.clubindustry.com/commercial-clubs/anytime-fitness-ranks-as-highest-fitness-brand-entrepreneur-s-top-global 
  2. https://www.anytimefitness.com/ranked-a-top-global-franchise/ 
  3. https://mfour.com/report/customer-experience-is-king-see-why-59-are-loyal-to-cell-carriers/ 
  4. https://www.techadvisor.com/feature/wearable-tech/fitbit-vs-apple-watch-3612954/ 

By Maksym Minin

Reviewed by Allyson Wehn

Posted on October 4th, 2021

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