Hi, friends! This week, I’m doing an honest review of 9Round and letting you know what it’s all about. I signed up for a free trial at my local 9Round location and didn’t let them know I’d be writing about my experience. This review isn’t sponsored and these opinions are 100% my own.
What is 9Round?
According to their website, 9Round is “a specialized fitness center for people who want a unique, fun, and proven workout that guarantees results. 9Round offers a kickboxing themed fitness program that incorporates a functional, interval, cardiovascular, and circuit training regimens. The programs consist of a proprietary system of nine challenging workout stations developed by a World Champion Kickboxer.”
9Round is a franchise with over 750 locations nationwide. The workout is 30 minutes long and consists of 9 stations that differ every day. The first two stations, which target strength, might use equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells. Stations 3-8 are kickboxing fitness stations where you punch and kick a bag. The final station is an abs/core station. There’s always a trainer to help you with each of your stations but there’s no “class”. You can work out at any time during the gym’s open hours. Rounds switch every 3 minutes and you can hop in at whatever time you want.
What I liked.
My 9Round workout was awesome. I was dripping with sweat by the end and I’d learned something new! This was my first time working with a speed bag, which I found really fun to learn. The 3-minute rounds went by super fast. This was partly because for 30 seconds of each round, the trainer threw something different at us. Everyone in the class had to do it regardless of which round we were on.
I love that there aren’t class times. You just come whenever the facility is open and hop in when you’re ready. You don’t have to worry about being late or not finding a time that works for your schedule. I also love that it’s so quick! I felt like I got just as good of a workout as I would in an hour-long class.
I really like that the workout is different every day. This is one of the reasons I love CrossFit. Variety keeps me wanting to come to class! The trainer was also super helpful when I had questions. The facility is super small, so it was easy for her to keep an eye on all of us and make necessary corrections.
The 9Round system also gives you a pretty well-rounded workout. There are elements of cardio; some that are kickboxing-based and some that aren’t. There’s also strength work; we did kettlebell snatches, an excellent compound movement. The workout made great use of compound HIIT movements as well, like box jumps and mountain climbers. We did plenty of burpees too. I love that the workout always ends with core work. It’s so important!
Perhaps my favorite thing was the price. There are several prices for an unlimited membership, which depends on how many months you agree to. There’s a start-up fee that includes your equipment (gloves, hand wraps, heart rate monitor, etc.). It’s a little weird that there’s no information about pricing available online...at all. They don’t tell you until you come into the facility for a class. So, I honestly don’t remember what all the pricing options were. I believe the most inexpensive was around $50 a month for a 12-month agreement, though. Compared to some of the fitness class prices I’ve seen lately, it’s not bad (considering the workout is different every day and you’ll always get some level of one-on-one attention from the trainer on duty). 9Round memberships all include a nutrition program. You can also see your stats on screens throughout the class using the heart rate monitor that’s included in your start-up fee.
What I didn’t like.
9Round locations don’t have showers. This is standard across all locations. If you’re someone who likes to work out in the morning then shower and head straight to work, this might be a deterrent. I prefer working out in the evening anyway, but having the option to shower at the gym and head straight to work is nice. Apparently, they don’t have showers so that they can keep costs affordable, which I can appreciate.
I know 9Round trainers go through a training process that’s specific to 9Round, but I don’t know what other qualifications they hold. I get the feeling that some of them aren’t certified group fitness instructors and could probably benefit from earning these credentials.
As a fitness instructor, proper form when executing exercises is important to me. The average person can’t execute a regular push-up with proper form, even if they think they can. I’m one of those people! In order to maintain excellent form, I need to come down to my knees when I do them. During my 9Round workout, we had to do push-ups. I came down to my knees and started doing them; a few other people did too. The trainer told us that unless we’re hurt, we shouldn’t be on our knees. I guess I’ll come off my knees and do them with improper form, then?
I get more out of push-ups on my knees using good form than regular push-ups with bad form. A lot more. Most of the people in the room weren’t capable of doing a regular push-up with proper form, but they were made to do it with bad form anyway. This really rubbed me the wrong way. While I got a great workout, it grinds my gears when fitness instructors don’t understand the benefit of modifications. There are people of all fitness levels working out here - we shouldn’t all be doing the same thing.
I also noticed that the trainer’s demonstration of how to execute box jumps wasn’t done properly. They didn’t have us extend the hips fully at the top - the focus was just on getting up and down as quickly as possible.
I also would’ve liked more of a warm-up. The first station is always jumping rope, which I think is nice, but the warm-up could be more robust. Maybe something resembling what we’d see in the next few rounds?
Finally, there wasn’t any time in between rounds. Not only do you have zero time to transition to your next round, but you also need to figure out what you’re doing at your next round. This may be less of an issue for people who come all the time. But if you’re new and the trainer needs to explain to you what to do, this is cutting into your 3 minutes at that round.
There were people who had been there before who needed an explanation of the rounds as well. I would imagine this improves as you keep going, but I still think they could work in a 30 second transition period in between rounds. I understand that not having any rest time is part of keeping the workout so short, though.
I think 9Round is a solid, affordable option for busy people who like to have someone else create their workouts for them. The ability to show up whenever you want as long as they’re open is a huge advantage, and I think options like this will become more common in the fitness industry. The workout gives you a well-rounded, challenging session in just 30 minutes.
I do think that almost all of what’s done in the 9Round workouts can be done at a gym on your own for $10 to $20 month. But the convenience of not having to think about what your workout is going to be for the day is worth the extra money for some people. You’re also probably going to work harder in these 30 minutes than you would on your own because you’re being pushed by your trainer.
I do, however, feel that the camaraderie that’s typical of a group fitness experience is lost with the 9Round system. There isn’t much interaction between participants, at least from my experience. You truly are getting in, working out, and getting out all in 30 minutes. Some people like that, but if you’re looking for a workout community to become a part of, you may want to look elsewhere. I find that in CrossFit, although we may all be at different fitness levels, there’s a really strong community and a lot of interaction between participants during classes.
CrossFit, on the other hand, is up to triple the price of 9Round and has set class times. If you’re looking for a more affordable option or aren’t interested in learning how to powerlift, 9Round is a good place to start. You may find that after a few months of training there, you’ve picked up enough that you can do the workouts at the gym on your own.
Dominique Cheylise, 27 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.