Hackernoon logoGamification in the Fitness App Design: Bringing Fun to Exercising by@mariiayuskevych

Gamification in the Fitness App Design: Bringing Fun to Exercising

Gamification is a method of applying game elements in a non-game environment. The most common ones are leaderboards, points, badges, timers, levels, challenges, and so on. These instruments help us be more motivated to complete a particular task and give us a nice reward afterward. When looking for a fitness app, we don't want just a set of exercises anymore — we are looking for an experience, a journey. We want our apps to show us how to get from point A to point B, and it is best if this process is fun and entertaining.
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Mariia Yuskevych Hacker Noon profile picture

@mariiayuskevychMariia Yuskevych

Writing for Perpetio

“Oh, I hate exercising! It is so boring!” Have you ever said something like that? Probably yes, at least most of us have. But how can we make our experience with sports more fun? Just one word: gamification.

When analyzing the UI/UX design of various fitness apps, gamification can be observed in at least half of the applications. But why is this tool so popular? And how does it work? Let’s see how gamification makes our experience with fitness apps more entertaining.

What is gamification?

Gamification is a method of applying game elements in a non-game environment. Sounds a bit confusing? Let’s try to understand this term better step by step. 

What are game elements? They are also called gamification mechanics. The most common ones are leaderboards, points, badges, timers, levels, storytelling, challenges, and so on. These instruments help us be more motivated to complete a particular task and give us a nice reward afterward.

As for the non-game environment, it is pretty self-explanatory: it is any situation that is not a game in its essence. This can be a classroom, a productivity tracker, or, in our case, a fitness app. 

Why is gamification needed in fitness apps?

Many of us might sometimes find it hard to stay motivated and keep up with our workout routine. And that is perfectly understandable: doing sports requires quite some effort.

What is more, when looking for a fitness app, we don’t want just a set of exercises anymore — we are looking for an experience, a journey. We want our apps to show us how to get from point A to point B, and it is best if this process is fun and entertaining.

That’s when gamification comes in handy. It’s a tool that is not too difficult to implement but can bring incredible engagement rates! Surely enough, gamification is not a must for any fitness app out there, but it is a feature that won’t fail to help an application stand out and attract a bigger audience. 

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(The use of challenges and leaderboard in the Runkeeper and Strava running apps)

Which gamification elements to choose for a fitness app?

When it comes to choosing gamification elements for a fitness app, it can be a tough choice. There are so many game elements, and you might feel adding any of those would work out. Still, one thing to remember about gamification is not to overdo it. Keep in mind that your application is not a game; it is, first and foremost, a solution for achieving a specific fitness goal. Gamification here is for fun only.

With that in mind, how do you choose the best gamification element for a fitness app? It is good to think about how certain gamification elements can be matched with the type and purpose of the app. 

For example, if your application offers yoga practices, encouraging users with leaderboards might not be the best idea: how is it possible to measure who does the asanas best? The only way to implement leaderboards would be to count the number of practices completed. 

Additionally, many users turn to yoga for a mindful and somewhat relaxing time; they might not find the competition element a pleasant experience. Instead, you may use storytelling, which can be comforting yet fun. 

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(An example of storytelling in the Zombies, Run app)

Summing up

Gamification is undoubtedly a way to make difficult tasks more enjoyable. Be it learning a new language or committing to exercising daily, adding a fun twist helps us be more consistent with our efforts.

As we have already mentioned, gamification is an excellent additional element for any fitness app, from activity-tracking to nutrition ones. Wondering which design elements besides gamification should be present in such apps? Here is a blog post discussing what to pay attention to in your fitness app UI/UX!

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