How I Built An iPhone Fitness App To $1,000 MRR

Published: July 27th, 2019
Joel Runyon
Founder, MoveWell
from Austin, Texas, USA
started January 2017
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Joel Runyon and I started an app called MoveWell. The app is designed to help you move better, get stronger and prevent injuries. It’s your ultimate movement and mobility companion.

Our customers are athletes and desk jockeys looking to perform better in fitness and generally move better and have less pain. The app has been out for a few years and currently brings in about $1,200-$1,800 per month, a nice amount of extra cash, but not really a huge business yet.

Even though MoveWell brings in the smallest amount of revenue of any of my ventures, the project has some of my most enthusiastic followers. I used to have a business partner, but recently bought him out and am looking to scale the business even more by adding coaches, consistently adding content, and doing branded partnerships over the next 6-12 months.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I created a blog called IMPOSSIBLE, designed to test a series of experiments on myself. I was tired of backing down from challenges that seemed impossible and I wanted to see if I could attract a following of others who felt the same.

The plan worked and has become an active community that takes on fitness and mindset challenges on a regular basis.

One item on that list was to run seven ultra-marathons on seven continents, raising money to build 7 schools. I called it the 777 Project.

Build an audience first. Then build a product off of that. Lots of times people build the product but then have no audience and have to spend most of their time trying to wrangle one up.

I got the campaign ready and launched it in Patagonia. What happened next was the motivation for the MoveWellApp. At mile 26.2 of my first of seven ultra-marathons, the 25 miles per hour Patagonian winds shifted and literally swept me off my feet and down the hill. I rolled my leg past my ankle, injuring myself pretty badly. I stubbornly finished the race, which made things worse, and the doctors told me to take six months off to heal and rehab the ankle.

I discovered something about myself and physical therapy: I performed well when my rehab coach is right there with me, but in between sessions I forget about it and just hated doing it.

I wondered if other people had that same problem, and that's when it hit me. What if I created an app that could serve as a mobility coach? Would other people want it, too? Instead of spending $60-$100 per physical therapy session, what if the app was affordable and designed routines to help me through exactly what I needed.

I had some experience in a similar nutrition space building a paleo beginner’s guide and a meal planning service, so I thought I could do something similar in the movement space.

So I decided to see what we could do.

Take us through the process of building the product.

We had built several apps before (, and, so we knew we could build this relatively quickly and simply. That was the primary goal - we didn’t want to have to spend 100k to build the app - so we built it as fast as we could to test the concept.

We launched a really simple version of the app with a bunch of free routines and one or two paid “pro” routines. We quickly realized that wasn’t very sustainable model. Simply put - we were charging 1.99 per pro routine.

After Apple takes their cut - we’d make a little over a $1 on each one and have to convince people to buy multiple routines. Not only do you have to persuade each customer that each routine is worthy to be purchased - we were just creating a lot of friction along the customer journey to them giving us money. So, we changed it to a “pro” subscription iteration (we still have 5 or so routines you can try out for free) and just added a ton of more routines for one simple monthly price.

That said - since moving to subscription - the business has become much, much more sustainable and profitable - especially considering you lose 30% off every purchase due to Apple taking it’s cut. We grandfathered anyone who had purchased a previous routine - so they didn’t lose access and added a bunch more content to make the pro subscription that much more worth it.


Describe the process of launching the business.

We just launched the app mostly to my list and a few of our fitness and running friends that have similar businesses + audiences.

If you’re going to have a business partner, find one who’s in similar life stages as you. It’s not always just enough to have someone you like working with - you need to have the same incentives and interests in the project.

As it turns out - everyone knows they *should* foam roll, but lots of people aren’t sure how to actually go about it. We looked at the options around the internet and they were either way too focused on individual movements or just general mobility routines.

There weren’t any apps or tools focused on goal-specific mobility - so that’s worked well.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Retention has been surprisingly good. Our retention rate for last month was 84% so we are quite happy with that. They love the app and the only concern has been to continue to add more and more content.

We just finished a new shoot that will double the base level of content in the app and create a bunch more routines going forward.

Our main goal - even beyond adding new features - is simply adding more routines, instructions and movements to maintain a constant influx of updated content.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are currently launching both a MoveWell: Online version of the app - with more content + features, an affiliate referral program and an app for android.

We are scheduling quarterly shoots and will be updating the app with new weekly content in order to get more training + tutorials to our customers so they can move better.

I’d like to 2-4x the number of paid subscribers - which to date - we haven’t put a big focus on. We’re putting extensive resources into growing our SEO footprint by building a stretching database. We’re also building a mobility product review section and working on doing brand partnerships with mobility tools and brands as an additional revenue source.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

If you’re going to have a business partner, find one who’s in similar life stages as you. It’s not always just enough to have someone you like working with - you need to have the same incentives and interests in the project.

I loved working with my co-founder, but we realized a couple years in that we just both had different motivations and needs and the business meant different things to both of us.

That said - to his credit - the types of conversations we were able to have about resolving our issues were fantastic, and the fact that we were able to resolve everything so amicably made me realize the difference picking someone with great character can make. I’m very glad I was able to co-found the app with him.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We custom built the app. Our marketing site runs on WordPress.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I’m a big fan of, Noah Kagan’s podcast - Noah Kagan Presents I also think Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School is a useful podcast for realizing that there are a lot of ways to make money out there.

I recently read Profit First and it changed both how I manage and allocate money in my business.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Build an audience first. Then build a product off of that. Lots of times people build the product but then have no audience and have to spend most of their time trying to wrangle one up.

We’re working on building the mobility audience at MoveWell and scaling it up by creating useful resources on relevant topics to our audience like range of motion adn body mechanics and we’re seeing great overall lift.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can check out

You can also follow along with my story at, and our other businesses including, UltimateMealPlans, and