Gym Buddy

Designing the future of fitness friendship apps.

The client had the idea of an app to help people find workout partners based on several factors such as gym location, fitness level and intended results. This need within the market is currently fulfilled by a few apps, however none have had particularly great uptake by users due to bad user experience of expensive payment models. The client approached me in a startup capacity to help develop the user experience and initial designs for the app by conducting user research and producing a strong brand guide to help deliver the apps message.

User research

There a many studies which show that training with someone else who has similar workout goals as yourself can lead to far greater results and less excuses not to go to the gym, compared to those who train alone.

Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation and, in some cases, healthy competition. “They can play the role of teammate, co-coach and cheerleader — all while working out.” Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, MPH, clinical director of Westchester Group Works in Harrison, N.Y.

The graphs above show that people who worked out with a 'friend' were more likely to finish the exercise course fully and also maintain the weight loss after it ended.

Knowing there was a need based upon anecdotal evidence, a competitor study was undertaken alongside surveys centered around users' aspirations for an app that allows them to find people to workout with. It also help to discover our target audience and develop the personas based on these. All these factors would aid in the development of the brand and user experience.

Competitor research

In order to get a fair understanding of the competitors on the market, a short study was undertaken to view their best and worst reviews (removing any that feel they were written by the developers or paid for) and locate any areas in which users have strong views in. The apps reviewed were GymUp, FitFlick, Bvddy and Fitmatch.


App is fairly sparse, pretty much a grid of user images on load up with no way of filtering based on gym, goals etc.
On clicking a user there is nothing there other than a self typed bio and contact details...To me this makes the app seem more like a generic dating app than a purpose built gym buddy finder.
Major security alert: the app exposes any members' personal email address. This is a major issue in terms of not only privacy but safety.


App functions like many dating apps with the swipe left/right method of selecting people. Personal trainers are marked via an icon so users know which ones they are, however there is no way of filtering them out and they could be made clearer.
You can set your workout preferences on first log in but after that you can't switch; and there is no other method of filtering other than location.
There does seem to be a rating system in place, which could indicate a way of telling if people are genuine or not.
Overall though, the app is a bit laggy, and a few bugs and hasn't had much of a take up by everyday users.


The app has a clean modern look whilst also being fun and friendly. It uses the swipe methodology for saying yes or no to people. Filters include sports and distance, although the list of sports is predefined and somewhat narrow.
Users can contact other users without matching as well, although this could be open to abuse.
Users can set a small bio, location and level they feel they are currently at in order to help users make the best matches.


The app has more options and allows the user to set several activities they are interested in, and the level they are in them. However, on the profile view this is shown as a line scale with no context. The user can also set the times of day they work out, which is useful when finding someone to train with.
This app uses the grid system of displaying users and does allow for a small amount of filtering. An interesting feature however, is the gym location tab which allows users to search by who is closest to a specific gym. I guess the app designer believes people attend their nearest gym which is quite often not the case. And also they don't have every gym available in the list with some big chains missing.

Survey results

Based on the surveys conducted the graph below shows the percentages of what the potential users regarded as the most important aspects of the app.

The graph indicates that the areas users thought most important were easy sign up and sign in alongside filterable information regarding another user's goals, local gym - all whilst regarding the users safety and having verified profiles.

It is likely the emphasis around safety and verified profiles is due to some female gym goers especially feeling that men stalk them, there is certainly enough anecdotal evidence to support this. In some cases this has even lead to women being murdered. With this in mind a key aspect of the app UX will be centered around ensuring the users safety and levels of privacy are maintained. An additional solution will be through verification to ensure profiles are true.

Having a stalker is one of the biggest reasons for people discontinuing their gym presence. Gym Insight - 5 Quirky Personalities You Are Likely to Encounter at the Gym

Another aspect which we asked users about was the method of finding matches. There are 2 main methods that have established themselve in the market; swiping and grid view. We were interested in finding which method the target users found most intuitive.

As the graph shows, swiping is the more intuitive matcing method. There is evidence to suggest that the swipe gesture is a recognised and recalled action to users, giving them the power to approve or banish other users with a simple flick. Whilst this app is not a dating or hook up app, some of the functionality can be inspired by their successful user interactions in the forming of a gym friendship app.

Although swiping (a card) was already charged with meanings such as pay, charge, or open, in dating it now takes on the most elemental binary meaning of yes or no. The negating leftward swipe mimics the turning of a page (finished, done). By reinforcing this already coded motion, Tinder has successfully re-signified the swipe gesture to the extent that it is now often first associated with the app and the approval/disapproval binary. G. David & C. Cambre - Screened Intimacies: Tinder and the Swipe Logic



Fit-stagram Fanatic


Age 19
Occupation Student
Technical apt. High
Devices Phone, Laptop


Monika has been at university a few months and has started to gain some weight. She wants to adopt a fitness lifestyle like she sees on instagram but feels unsure how to go about it. She has a gym membership but has only been a couple of times. #fitspo #transformationtuesday


Would like to meet someone who is looking for the same situation
Keep each other motivated
Take photos of each other for their instagram fitness accounts


Finding people to go to the gym with
Staying motivated
Creepy guys sending unsolicited messages on meetup apps


Prevention of unsolicited messages
Instagram linking?
Gym search
Gender filter


Seeking a Spotter


Age 31
Occupation Accountant
Technical apt. High
Devices Phone, Tablet, Laptop


Justin has been training for a few years, however recently he has hit a plateau and become demotivated due to lack of pushing himself. He trains early in the morning and his partner fears he is pushing himself too hard and without a spotter will cause himself injury. #trainhard #ironaddict


Find someone who can push him further
Early workouts
Meet another man


Not outgoing
Doesn't want a gym 'bro'


State workout schedule
Make it easy to meet and contact
Gym search
Gender filter


Concerned Changemaker


Age 58
Occupation Nurse
Technical apt. Low - Medium
Devices Phone, Desktop


Abigail has been told by her doctor that she needs to lose weight. She feels that she would be judged negatively by other gym members and be more confident if she had someone to work out with as she is a sociable person. She has no gym membership yet and is looking at where would be best for her. She is also open to PT sessions #weightlossjourney #dontbeafraid


Meet someone in similar situation
Find a gym
Meet PT
Meet group


Technologically weak
Doesn't want anyone young


Age filter
PT search
Group creation


Ambitious Personal Trainer


Age 27
Occupation Personal Trainer
Technical apt. Medium - High
Devices Phone, Laptop


Patrick is a freelance personal trainer looking for new clients. He specialises in weight training and nutrition alongside competition prep. He works at multiple locations and has a busy schedule. #fitlife #personaltrainer


Advertise his services to the correct people
Gain new clients
Set up group sessions
Manage bookings
State fees and packages


Confusion over when meeting clients
Clients in wrong areas


PT fee
PT filter
Schedule manager/meetings/events
Activities filters

Functionality strategy

Based on the research conducted we were able to define what functionality the user would like in the app’s main features. In order to deliver a product with a clear message a minimum viable product was sought by categorising the stories into the project scope.

Features As a User I want to... So that I can....
Sign up Sign up using social sign in Easily create an account
Sign up Sign up using an email address Sign up without using social media sign ins
Basic profile Add my image to my profile Show what I look like to other users
Basic profile Add my rough location to my profile Show other users the areas I train in vaguely
Basic profile Add a bio to my profile Describe myself
Basic profile State my age So that I can match with similar ages
Basic profile State my gender So that I can match with similar genders
Advanced profile Set my types of activities Find other users which share activities
Advanced profile Add my workout schedule Find users who workout when I do
Advanced profile Set a specific gym Find people who already go to the same gym as me
Browse/filter Browse through other users Find users to match with
Browse/filter Filter other users Find users which more accurately match with my goals
Match/reject Match with specific users Contact them about becoming gym buddies
Match/reject Reject users that aren't suitable Not be contacted by them
Block user Block users who I don't want to be contacted by Not be contacted by them further
View profiles Read a users profile See if they would be a suitable match
Settings Have the ability to change my notification settings Have options on how the app notifies me
Messaging Send a matched user a message See if I have reporte and then arrange a meet
Personal trainer Create a personal trainer profile Look for new clients

Site Map


Sketching & wireframing

Based off of the sitemap and user requirements I started planning out layouts for the main interface screens.


More coming soon