After investing over a million dollars in a custom app that just wasn’t cutting it, fitness creator Adam Frater relaunched it on Passion.io—with all the functionality he needed from an app, for a fraction of the time and cost.
The result was a new and improved app that was:
After doing time in the corporate world as a digital marketer growing other people’s businesses, Adam Frater decided to go all in with his own—using the personal brand and audience he’d built as a fitness creator as his launchpad.
“Originally, I sold eBooks,” says Frater, “That was more or less the industry standard back then. So putting together a PDF was relatively easy. Then people started demanding apps.”
Today, he has more than half a million followers on Instagram, his own fitness app Calxthenics in app stores, and 7 figures in digital product revenue under his belt.
For all intents and purposes, Adam Frater had mostly been a one-man show. Except for the few years where he took on a business partner—like many successful creators end up doing to grow—with the goal of building the next big fitness app.
“What’s interesting about this space is you can take any professional in the fitness world—a trainer, coach, athlete—and they're really good at what they do. Which, generally speaking, is not digital marketing or coding” says Frater.
“Most need to bring in a partner to bring their business online. And that partner is not somebody you pay a small hourly rate. They'll either come in on a profit share agreement or cost a lot of money, generally a large portion of what the business is worth.”
— Adam Frater, Creator of Calxthenics
For Adam, who is no stranger to digital marketing, the partnership offered access to the development resources necessary to build a custom app from scratch.
Things were going great. Until they weren’t.
“We put hundreds of thousands, if not millions, into developing our own custom app. We were paying very high salaries to have developers on staff. The athletes that were on the app were amazing. The programs were amazing. But I was never really proud of the original app that was built.”
The custom app development process itself:
❌ Took years before a product went live
❌ Cost hundreds of thousands in upfront investment
❌ Took an entire team, from developers to designers, to build it out
❌ Left the keys to the app in the hands of a developer who was the only one who could make changes
❌ Included hidden costs for every content update and every bug that needed to be fixed
But the most frustrating part was how slow it all was. They had to create the iOS app first before work could begin on an Android or web app (because “that’s just how apps are built”).
For Adam, it would have been ideal to go live with all versions of the app at once so everyone could access it: “I already had a successful business model selling eBooks prior to the app. The concept of selling this product was already proven. Just how it was packaged and delivered was changing.”
Then, a bad business breakup led to the partnership dissolving. After spending years only to wind up without an app, rebuilding the entire product from scratch wasn’t an option. Adam needed to go live with an app he could be proud of—as quickly as possible.
Luckily, he had most of the content he needed to start creating his new app: Calxthenics.
Around this time, Adam came across Passion.io and needed little explanation to know it fit his needs.
He’d used no-code tools like Wix to build ecommerce websites and Zapier to create integrations before. He knew the no-code route wasn’t just easier; it was faster.
“Passion.io is super easy to use from the user’s standpoint, and it's super easy to use from the business’ standpoint. I don't know anything about coding. I don't know anything about building apps. But I can put together this fitness program exactly as I need to.” —Adam Frater, Creator of Calxthenics
In no time at all, the Calxthenics app was live on iOS, Android, and the web as Adam had intended for the original custom app.
His favorite features in the new app include:
✅ Sequences where each exercise flows into the next, providing users with a comprehensive, multi-set workout
✅ Capability to customize rep counts and durations for each individual workout
✅ User-friendly content editor for effortless transition of nutrition program content from PDFs into the app
✅ Progress checkpoints that allow users to mark each exercise as "Complete" and track their fitness journey
His experience as a digital marketer and a fitness creator means Adam knows as much about running paid ads as he does about getting shredded abs. As a result, his app had some highly effective sales funnels behind it right out the gate.
In the first few months after its launch, Calxthenics had been downloaded over 10,000 times and has generated $50k+ in monthly revenue. And it’s still early for Adam.
“Right now, I just drive people right to my $50 to $100 products. Eventually, I might offer something under $10 to get people's attention,” he says. He’s opted to sell his app as a one-time purchase, just like his eBooks, since most of his programs are 30 days. But he may explore subscriptions in the future.
Beyond the revenue he can attribute to ads, Adam says the new $3k to $5k per month in organic sales he was getting through the Apple and Google app stores was a nice surprise.
Adam’s experience proves that spending hundreds of thousands to build an app from scratch isn’t necessary to create a profitable app you can be proud of, that puts you in control.
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