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9Round brings boxing back to Bow – with a kick

9Round, the kickboxing fitness club with studios around the world, has opened on Roman Road. The studio offers Bow locals a high-intensity workout that fits in with busy lifestyles through the short 30 minute length and circuit style with no class times.

Originally an American venture, 9Round has made waves in New Zealand, Japan, and the Middle East, and is growing fast in the UK too. By throwing its hat into Bow’s ring, 9Round brings its flexible brand of fitness to the East End. The club offers locals the chance to box and kick for exercise, self-improvement, and fun, rather than competition.

Stepping down from Roman Road Market into the basement that houses 9Round you enter an atmospheric space with warm exposed brick walls, and a black and red colour theme. A trainer is always on hand to provide the type of friendly service that is lacking in the average chain gym. A series of stations, labelled boxing ring style from Round 1 to Round 9, guides you through a range of punching bags and equipment that will inspire the most advanced kickboxer as well as beginners.

The 9Round model

The 9Round fitness model was inspired by US champion kickboxer Shannon ‘the Cannon’ who wanted to pioneer a new model of flexible kickboxing training that could fit around people’s busy lives.

The workout incorporates functional, interval, and circuit training styles for a fun and effective workout in 30 minutes flat. In Rounds 1-2, trainers will show you how to use dumbbells, kettlebells, jump ropes, and medicine balls to build on strength and stamina.

Rounds 3-8 incorporate kickbox fitness, punching, and kicking heavy bags to build power, double-end bags to increase coordination, and speed bags for conditioning and speed. Finally, Round 9 strengthens the core with a last blast of ab workout.

Each round’s duration is a punchy three minutes, and members move around the club to the next challenge. Thanks to this efficiency, as well as the support of the trainers who are always on hand, a new person can join the workout every three minutes.

Under each Round is an instructive set of exercises written on whiteboards. These exercises change daily so you never do the same workout twice. ‘It ensures that your body is always challenged and you never get bored’, said Bow Club Manager Charlotte Hallas.

Members at 9Round Bow are as varied as the surrounding community. ‘[The club] attracts people from all different backgrounds – people who’ve never trained before, and those at the top of their fitness game,’ said Nadine Palmer, a Bow-local trainer at 9Round. She said that some members might have martial arts experience, while others are completely new to exercise.

A new kind of kickboxing opponent

The 9Round style uses cardio, resistance and core-strength training to work members’ bodies to their maximum potential in a short period of time, with members showing up at their leisure and getting going within three minutes. In keeping with their efficient ethos, the clubs use wearable heart rate technology to ensure each 30 minute workout is the best it can be.

During a workout, class participants wear heart rate monitors which appear on a big screen on the wall. This allows personal trainers to monitor how hard you are pushing yourself and that you are in the correct zone to see results.

For those who come for the speedy rounds of exercise but miss the competitiveness of kickboxing, 9Round offers the rival of quantifiable personal bests.

‘The heart rate monitors provide us with a live feed of our members’ workouts. We can track exertion, calories burned, and they get to earn points every time they train’ said Hallas. ‘It’s a great way for our members to track their progress and make sure they are hitting their goals.’

If training points aren’t enough to tempt the competitive-minded, they also offer CHOW (challenge of the week). This is a week-long challenge that puts competitors on a chalk leaderboard with others who might dare to think they could do, for example, the most skips on a jump rope.

But it’s not necessarily other members you are competing with: if you come in on a Monday there’s no pressure to be top of the leaderboard, Hallas emphasised. It’s all about improving on personal bests.

For those who respond well to positive reinforcement, trainers are on the floor to offer it, and members ring a traditional boxing bell one to three times at the end of a session to signify ‘good’ to ‘great’ workout.

‘It’s fantastic to have a personal trainer with you every step of the way throughout our sessions, to guide, motivate, and push you to get the most from every workout. Not only that but the passion and personality of our trainers is what really brings the workout to life,’ Hallas said.

Looking at the sets of exercises written on the wall under each round, it’s hard not to wonder what tomorrow’s will be. This dynamism coupled with the numerous varieties of punching and kicking bags really show that the 9Round model doesn’t just offer speedy full body fitness: it offers variety and fun. In Hallas’ words, ‘it’s the end of boring cardio’.

‘In 2019 we need our choice of exercise to fit in with our fast-paced lifestyles. Instead of slogging it on a treadmill we want workouts that are fast and effective. It’s great that we can offer a high-intensity full body workout that promises results in just 30 minutes.’

Getting a kick out of community

Being on the historic market stretch of Roman Road, Hallas and her team of trainers are already part of the community, with Mono coffee shop providing their daily caffeine shots.

‘Everybody chats and says hello when you bump into them locally; it’s nice being on first-name basis with all our 9Rounders. There’s very much a community feel, said Hallas. ‘It creates such a nice atmosphere to work and work-out in. We get to hear about people’s holidays and upcoming events, and there’s a lot of fitness fun along the way too!’

Hallas and her team of trainers aim to mirror the community feel of the area around them. ‘You miss out on that in other, bigger gyms. It’s something that is really important to us and our members. We’re here with them along their whole journey.’

Flexibility is at the core of 9Round’s ethos, and the Bow branch retains this: membership is contract-free and includes unlimited access to all 9Round branches in the UK and Europe.

It’s also possible to freeze memberships easily, and Ramadan recently saw a lot of people freezing their subscriptions to come back after the month was over.

Palmer, who lives locally, added that 9Round’s workout style fits in well with the local culture. ‘It’s just a bit different,’ she said. ‘30 minutes in and out with a friendly face greeting you. It’s a no muss, no fuss workout — very East End!’

Local members are already in their corner. Bow resident and young mother Lucinda Eason said ‘9Round Bow is a gem of a place to exercise where you can turn up at any time and have a personal trainer guide and encourage you with a different set of exercises every day.’

If you’re keen to get a taste of this, 9Round Bow is holding an open Fit Weekend from 28 to 30 June. Prospective members will be able to tour the club, chat with the team, and enter a competition to win a month’s free membership. Plus, you will be able to complete your first 9Round workout for free. Visit them at their premises on Roman Road Market on Friday 28 from 7am to 7pm, Saturday 29 from 9am to 3pm, or Sunday 30 from 10am to 2pm.

9Round’s Bow branch is one of 14 9Rounds across the UK and is located at 530 Roman Road, Bow, London E3 5ES.

Member with heart rate monitor in 9Round Bow's studio
Boxing gloves in 9Round Bow
CHOW ball and bell in 9Round Bow
Trio on rounds in 9Round Bow studio
Trio on rounds in 9Round Bow

This article was sponsored by 9Round Bow.

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Anna Lezard

Anna Lezard is a recent graduate from the University of Amsterdam with an MA in New Media and Digital Culture. You might see her cycling around East London on a rattly pale blue bike or enjoying a nice pub.

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