Once upon a time my husband and I owned a heavy bag. We would put on our gloves and give the bag a few whacks as part of a circuit routine. We retired our bag early in our marriage, but the recent resurgence of boxing as a popular fitness activity has made my hands itch for those gloves.
That’s when I heard about 9Round.
Almost instantly I thought, “What a genius idea!” Seriously. Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson, the CEO of this rapidly-growing franchise is capitalizing on just about every fitness trend out there, and in the process, he’s giving people a boxing workout routine that enhances total-body fitness.
The business model is simple – franchisees provide customers with a 30 minute circuit routine based 100% on kickboxing training. These aren’t the popularized “cardio kickboxing” classes offered at gyms, but true punching and kicking workouts utilizing a variety of bags, from standard heavy bags to double-ended bags, speed bags, uppercut bags and more. Every workout features nine, three-minute rounds. Each round has one of three focuses – conditioning, kickboxing or core – and each day’s workout is new and different. Customers can show up and start whenever they want, and trainers are available to instruct on proper form and provide modifications, as needed.
The idea is to get in, get a killer sweat on, and get out, all while maximizing your time in the gym while minimizing your out-of-pocket costs. A typical monthly membership price is only $49 which includes unlimited workouts, a pair of hand wraps and gloves, access to a trainer, a nutrition guide and online nutritional support.
Talking to Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson
Because I thought the idea was so genius, I had to talk to the company’s founder, Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson, the current IKF Light Middleweight Kickboxing Champion of the World.
Hudson’s older brother attended a martial arts school for karate, so Shannon grew up watching his brother take classes, and he himself started taking karate when he was just seven years old. At 18 he started amateur boxing and kickboxing, racking up a lot of fights and experience, eventually making it onto the U.S. Kickboxing team. He turned pro in 2005, participating in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League, and in 2011 won the world title.
9Round came about because Hudson wanted to bring real, professional boxing and kickboxing training to the masses in a convenient, affordable manner. He always loved business, and never had a “real” job because once his brother bought the karate school they went to as children, he started working there. It was while he was working at the karate school that he had the idea of the 30-minute kickboxing workout routine. He borrowed money, maxed out his credit cards and hung out a banner in 2008. Within a month he had more than 100 members, and in 2009 he began franchising his business.
As Hudson and I talked about the recent success of his franchise (he’s on pace to have 100 franchises by the end of 2013 and hopes to have 1,000 by 2017), there were a couple things he said that stuck out to me:
On female members:
“Every gym is more female than male. It surprised me at first that more women and girls join up – tweens, teens, women – as long as they’re tall enough to hit the bags, we let them do it. Women like the workout because it’s a full-body routine in 30 minutes and you can burn up to 500 calories in that time. Everyone can go at their own pace, everyone can show up when they want, so you don’t have to build your schedule around a class time. If you want to show up at 5:07, that’s great. The bell rings every three minutes, so you can start when you get there. It’s also empowering for women to learn how to punch and kick a 130-pound bag – it can provide a sense of accomplishment and help with self-defense.”
“The fitness industry is personality driven, so trainers and owner-operators have to be people-people. We’re not in the fitness business first, we’re in the people business first. Facilities are only 1,200 square feet. Trainers and owner-operators know everyone’s name. They give fist bumps and high fives. When we recruit franchisees, we look for people who have a love for fitness and have fantastic personalities that people can connect with. Franchisees don’t have to be a body builder or pro boxer. We have an internal certification program that everyone goes through, so we don’t care if people have a training background because we love training people from scratch. What we teach is exactly what they need to know. Personality, work-ethic and a drive to help people get fit is what we look for in our franchisees.”
On having fun:
“We like to have fun with people; we give everyone fighter names, so I’m going to dub you Lethal Laura. We get people laughing to break down the intimidation factor. You’re never going to get hit during a workout. It’s about getting fit. In fact, ‘Get fit, never hit’ is one of our tag lines. We try to make people understand it’s all about having fun and getting a great workout.”
Trying the workout
Because 9Round always offers the first workout free, I went to my local 9Round in Cedar Park, TX to get a taste of the action.
The Cedar Park facility has only been open for a month, and still has that “new gym” feel. The owner-operator, J.R. Lemons, greeted me at the door and let me know that the day’s workout was a doozie – I could expect to do more than 100 burpees. Yikes! Essentially, each round featured a designated exercise followed by the same number of burpees as the round number. For instance, on round three I performed a series of 30 punches followed by three burpess, then 30 more punches, followed by three more burpees, continuing for the full three-minute round. On round four I would have performed four burpees after each exercise.
Luckily, J.R. wanted to give me a feel for all the different types of workouts they offer, so after the third round, he switched things up.
Each round lasts three minutes, with 30 seconds between rounds. During the burpee workout, the 30 seconds was designated for rest, but when J.R. switched up the routine, that 30 seconds turned into “active rest” where I’d “punch it out” on a heavy bag, do mountain climbers or spider planks to fill the time. The rounds themselves were filled with punching, kicking and jumping exercises – we even added wall squats and ab exercises to the mix.
See a couple exercises in action >>
At the end of the routine, I felt both energized and spent. I then tried to convince J.R. to open up a facility closer to where I live so that I could reasonably become a member.
I would join in a heartbeat if I didn’t have to drive 30 minutes to get there.
Learn more about 9Round gyms and franchising opportunities on their website.