This is Part Two in a series of reviews of “High Intensity Interval Training” (HIIT) gyms. Part One provided context on HITT and its components, then reviewed Orange Theory Fitness.
Suggestion: read the first short section of Part 1, for HITT context, then return here.
9Round bills itself as “your all-inclusive kickboxing fitness gym.” All workouts are 30 minutes, and can be started any time you arrive (as opposed to scheduled classes). The goal: use rapid-fire progression through nine activity stations (kickboxing plus a few other types) to get an intense, fun 30-minute interval workout.
This is a franchise system with over 400 locations in the U.S. (40 states). There are also nearly 300 across Canada and Mexico. Plus multiple other countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Chances are, there’s one near you.
You’ll do nine sequential activity stations, each for three minutes. There’s a short transition activity (e.g. jumping jacks, leg lifts) between stations.
- Stations 1-2: Warm-up and strength stations with dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls (as well as calisthenics)
- Stations 3-8: Kickboxing with specialized bags for a boxing warm-up, hand speed and coordination work, traditional heavy bag, bobbing and weaving, kicks, and throwing knees
- Station 9: Abs and core work to finish
While you start on station one, others there before you are at stations two through nine, all making their way around the circuit.
This was fun (as most kickboxing things are), especially because of the specialized bags for specific stations. E.g, one station is a very large spherical bag designed to hit then duck under, and another is a horizontally-slung bag to throw knees into.
If you’re an MMA fan, you can really get into role playing here.
You’ll definitely get heart rate up and build the type of strength/coordination you do from kickboxing. 9Round offers heart rate monitors to help get into your best heart-rate zone during the rounds, and check recovery between them.
FACILITY & STAFF
Since this is a franchise, locations are likely to vary more than you see in corporate-operated chains.
The Pleasanton, CA 9Round (SF Bay Area) was clean, with nicely-designed activity stations and a good layout to make your way through them.
There was no locker room or shower, though. This is very much a “storefront” type of concept in a strip mall.
Several trainers are there to instruct new people, coach you on technique, and motivate you to go hard during your intervals. The franchise owner was a more-experienced trainer than the 2-3 other young staff members, but all were friendly and helpful.
More like a traditional gym then a “class,” you show up and start working out any time you want. That’s very convenient. At peak hours, you may have to wait a few “rounds” to get started on Station 1.
Hours at the location I visited are 8am-8pm weekdays, 8am-noon Saturdays, and closed Sundays. The schedule reinforces the impression that 9Round is often used by people who need or want to “squeeze” a short, intense workout into their workday, near work.
Costs may vary by metro area a little bit, but the general picture is:
- $50 initiation fee (you get boxing gloves and hand/wrist wraps along with this)
- About $80 per month
On the spectrum of how much fitness options cost, this is fairly affordable, though more than a basic-basic gym. 9Round has a nice free-trial program, allowing you to try them for seven days.
PRO’S & CON’S
- Time-efficient workout
- Variety of kickboxing moves and beginner-friendly format to try kickboxing
- Convenience of no class schedules, while still providing motivation of being in a group, coached environment
- Though recent research finds 30 minutes is a sufficient HIIT workout, for some it won’t “feel” like enough (that was the case for me)
- The strength and core work, while better than nothing, are pretty minimal within this concept (you can only so much in 30 minutes, with 2/3 of this being kickboxing)
- While workout details change frequently, the basic station sequence is always the same and this might feel repetitive to some
9Round is an attractive option for people who want to strictly limit workout time to 30 minutes but still get a mix of endurance, strength, agility and flexibility work.
For people who want more variety, more strength work, or who are willing and able to spend more time working out, the 9Round format might become limiting. That said, its affordable pricing means you could use 9Round for a couple of days a week, and also participate in other fitness activities.
If this review is interesting to you, it’s definitely worth doing their free trial.
Here’s the 9Round site, at which you can find a location and then sign up for a free trial.
“In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade.” (Simon & Garfunkel, The Boxer—click to listen)
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