It looks like Gymshark took on an endeavor to solve a problem that has been birthing many fitness apps. From making perfect workout leggings and sportswear to building a perfect workout user experience, now Gymshark is competing with headliners in the fitness space.
So what is it?
Gymshark App is a subscription-based mobile app that has a number of ready-to-use programs for various workout frequencies and a workout manager that helps you in creating your fitness routine. Gymshark signed some prominent influencers, like Steve Cook, Karina Elle, etc., to kickstart and grow user engagement, knowing that people who follow fitness influencers on Instagram are strong candidates for becoming fitness app users. As to the trainer roster, there is a good balance in gender diversity with five female and six male trainers. This number is probably constantly changing as Gymshark signs more of Instagram’s macro and micro-influencers. While the number of trainers is pretty small (you’re not going to surprise anybody with ten trainers these days), what’s worth mentioning is that the trainers have been representing various body types and fitness goals, which is vital in establishing relatability for a wider audience. Trainer’s body is often associated with the fitness goal and the workout type the user is trying to establish and achieve. There are also other conscious and unconscious factors (ex., gender, ethnicity, and/or workout type) people take into account when choosing the trainer they will stick with.
Everyone starts somewhere. Using Gymshark’s ready-to-use program is a wise idea, especially for someone new to the fitness reality. The app is built with thought having been given to all types of users — beginner, intermediate, advanced. The beginner might end up using ready-to-go programs; an advanced one might supplement pre-compiled programs with their own workouts or warmup/cooldown routines; an advanced user is supposed to rely on the library of exercises within the app, but for a truly advanced user, there are some key features missing, I’ll explain later in this article. My initial intention was to utilize their exercise library to create my own workout program created by my online coach, or, basically, transfer what I have in my Google Spreadsheet into the app.
Signup Flow & Onboarding
Gymshark kept signup flow short and sweet. I was pleasantly surprised to notice autofill for the input fields with first name, last name, and an email. This saved me about 40 taps by avoiding entering this information manually. Great job!
As to Gymshark, my average onboarding took exactly 1 min, taking into account some typos or entry errors with birthdays and passwords. And in an ideal world, onboarding will take about 40 seconds when the autofill and all the user inputs were correct in the first place with a perfect internet connection. Gymshark’s onboarding is also simple and quick, collecting general data around gender, measurement system, and notifications push. I think that’s a great start, and most people come to the app because they want results, and to get results asap, the user has to onboard asap, as well. On the other hand, one might argue that people come to a fitness app because of a certain problem they are trying to resolve, so having a focus area to target as an onboarding setting and the recommendation engine based on the entry might be useful, as well.
Onboarding has always been an interesting topic, especially in fitness. A great onboarding builds up the anticipation of the experience, and it also might help customize some recommendations or help create an athletic profile that captures goals, needs, time, and frequency a user can manage as the fitness journey evolves.
Once signed up and onboarded, the user is greeted with a simple and light interface. Great photography that comes from careful planning and art direction, bold headlines, and clean layout are very inviting and reassuring at first glance. We’ve got you; you can do this!
The current version of the app has Home, Plans, Custom, Progress, and Settings sections that cover basic needs for an average user.
The Home section is a mesh between Custom Plans (if you already created one) and Trainer Discovery, Library Of Exercises organized by a muscle group called “Body Parts,” and personal workout programs and your stats.
The home screen is also a place for featured workout routines by the fitness influencers they signed. Those are pre-compiled programs under the tab “Plans” where you can pick your trainer and the program available to kickstart your fitness journey. All of this might appeal to the beginner and intermediate user. However, for intermediate to advanced users, the variety of programs is not there yet. I’m sure Gymshark is working on content production to attract advanced users.
Gymshark App also has a “Custom” section where users can create their unique routines using the available library of exercises or add their own. Each exercise includes an exercise preview image and a video that explains how to perform it correctly. The flow is seamless and easy.
While creating my custom workout routine, I discovered that not all exercises are there yet. Also, there is an obvious challenge of the shared language and terminology across the fitness industry. Rope Pushdown vs. Triceps Cable Pushdown, or Single Leg Curl vs. Laying Hamstring Curl might not give you the same results. In the current version, when adding your exercise to the library, there is no way to add your point of reference. At the moment, it’s not an option to add an image or photo nor a video. I’m hoping Gymshark will add this functionality later on. It might be a feature full of potential: let the people fill in the blank in the experience, and let the people share it within the app. By the end of the day, every app is competing for that daily engagement.
It’s uncomplicated enough to let even beginners onboard with ease and start their workout immediately. This simplicity screams at you, “Come on, you can do this!”
Since I’ve created my own program, you’ll notice some exercises have no previews as it was something I added manually, I can see how adding your own video or photo content might supplement gaps within the exercise library.
Gymshark attempted to keep the view of each exercise concise and simple by designing a horizontal scroll for sets while keeping other exercises minimized until you get to them. It’s also easy to jump from set to set with just a tap due to generously sized hit targets for big thumbs and sloppy tappers. Each set has two subsections or tiers that show “Target reps.”
You get the rest timer. It’s simple and easy to use, although, in the beginning, I have mistaken some actions such as Start/Stop as they all blend together since the timer is not using any color.
Overall, the app has a decent and ergonomically correct rest timer. What is missing is the actual timer; the way timed exercises are being tracked are post facto — you enter the time you did, and the app does not follow it. You might need to supplement the workout with your timer (whatever app this is) to accommodate variable rest time between sets, supersets, and exercises.
Progress Tab is one of the least detailed and developed parts of the Gymshark experience. In addition to that, men and women measure progress differently. Most people want to see numbers showing improvements in weights lifted, workout frequency, weeks they did not skip the program (so-called streaks), graphs with the progression of weights for each exercise, the body transformation photos, or athletic profile to specify and update their fitness goals, etc. None of that is easy to accomplish for a v1 version of anything, but an engaged and active user would expect that functionality sooner than later. I hope that Gymshark will do work for this part of the experience to help people celebrate their achievements in the fitness journey and set new goals regularly.
Clean and well-organized Settings screen. What I could not find was how to delete my account, or how to change my password. Subscription management has always been a touchy topic as it’s connected to the user wallet, and account management falls into the same category.
As a designer, I always pay attention to extras and micro-moments companies put into their products; that extra step towards a well-crafted user experience is always noticeable and always valued. It also helps express uniqueness and the authenticity of the app. Gymshark has one…
There is one thing that stood out to me as I was screen-grabbing various views and patterns. It’s the “Need Help?” Popup triggered by pressing and holding the power button on my iPhone . It seems like a small detail, but it’s a huge deal in the moments of confusion or frustration. It shows extra care to the user, anticipating there might be a problem in the experience, so let’s help people reach out to the support team faster than they expect. Most companies overlook this moment and confuse the user with additional questions, like what’s the build number, what’s the device, etc. But interactions like that can become signature moments for any experience — how you take care of your users and how you start the nonverbal conversation through the experience and micro-interactions. That’s the body language you want your app to have. Well done, Gymshark! Well done!
Overall — a great experience in its very early stages. If you’ve been working out for years or consider yourself as an advanced user, it’s probably not for you. Still, if you just stepped into your fitness journey, you might find it as a useful first gym app to start workout right away without feeling like you need to learn the app first.
Things I wish Gymshark app had.
- Further differentiation of exercises visually and interactively, ex. drop set, superset, pyramid, etc. At the moment of writing this article, this functionality isn’t available yet, and all you have is default sets where you go through exercises one by one.
- Progress & Timeline. I’d need to see some stats on how consistent I am with my workout schedule and how I progress through weeks either by showing me weight lifted, reps done, or routines switched. Men and women would need different metrics, but of course, to have a sustainable business model, the app has to combine overlapping data points for both.
- Some visual differentiation of exercises completed vs. exercises to be done yet as the entire workout view is a bit too bland with light gray colors over white, and the primary data points blend with secondary.
Things that did not work for me.
- After already specifying the target weight or reps prescribed by the coach, it forced me to type it again every single workout. As a user, I don’t even pay attention to“Target” Reps; I pay attention to actual reps I already entered, and I aim to fulfill the promise every workout. If anything gets adjusted, quite often it is the weights lifted. I would go the opposite route: keep the target reps unchanged unless the user wasn’t able to perform the planned number of reps. This approach should significantly reduce the number of required taps throughout the workout program. After all, unnecessary taps have a compound effect on how the user perceives the entire experience.
- My fingers often miss such tiny hit targets as the “Complete set” button. It takes a lot of precision to hit it accurately. I have no time or patience to spend my seconds tapping something twice. My advice is to increase the height of that button.
- Not having a calendar is a big downside. The majority of people have busy lives, and the ability to track workouts done within a week, month, and the year is essential to plan for rest days and to avoid the need for keeping this in your own head or, what’s worse, carrying the notepad with schedule (I still see a lot of those lying on the floor in every single gym I enter). Most apps are guilty of not building appropriate calendar functionality holistically tied to the progress, and the reason for that is that behind every app there are dev teams that are universally scared of this endeavor due to the complexity of the effort. I’m hoping Gymshark is already planning some work toward building a proper calendar.
Things that did work for me.
- The overall experience is easy to learn and start workout right away. The user is 1 minute away from the time the app is downloaded to the time of going through signup, onboarding, and plan discovery.
- The ease of adding your warmups and cooldowns is a wise move to help people create healthy routines or supplement the plan with a custom set of exercises if they feel like doing extra. I also like the idea of bulk actions, completing the entire warmup, or all sets within the exercise with just one tap. This is a time saver.
- Automatic scroll upon completion of the exercise. Even if I skipped an exercise within a workout of 5, it would prompt me to finish the skipped exercise.
- I love it when it shows time spent on each day of the workout program; it’s an important marker of the effort I’ve put in. I love easy note-taking experience. Simple and easy, I have my own recs for making it more ergonomic but will share later.
- Video and audio demonstration of the exercise and the form. Such a critical feature for most people to have a point of reference, especially for newbies. And even for an advanced user, there are plenty of new exercises invented since Arnold’s era to find this feature useful.
Food for thought
Gymshark is a well done first version of the fitness app. It has the potential for growth and recognition amongst other serious players like Sweat by Kayla Itsines, LessMills, Fitplan, Keep Trainer, and others. Very possible that the product owner is working towards the future vision of this app releasing features incrementally. By the time this article will be released, there might be a few changes already in it. I love the craft put into the content production, the video, imagery, and the programs. If you’re a newbie or just graduated into the intermediate level, this is a pretty straightforward app that will get you moving pretty quickly in your fitness journey. If you’re an advanced gym rat, you probably will be looking into more robust workout apps, and I think I have one for you. Stay tuned for more fitness apps reviews, and thank you for reading this article.