[ad – gifted membership, but I wasn’t asked to write this post]
If you’ve been following my fitness journey for a while, you’ll know that cardio is most certainly not my strong point. I’ve bounced from boxercise classes, to sprintervals to joining a running club and getting up to 5k. I stuck with the running for about a year, it obviously works and is great functional training (I find it completely insane that as animals, most of us humans cannot even run without getting out of breath in seconds so those slow zombies you’re not scared off will deffo get you eventually) but I absolutely hated it. I’m naturally not built for running (short, heavy legs + asthma) but it also used to really exacerbate my anxiety; I can’t run, what if I trip over, what if I can’t run any further and have to stop, I can’t breathe, I actually can’t breathe, am I going to have an asthma attack, what if I faint, bloody hell I’m so hot, I’m gonna collapse, there’s nothing wrong why am I panicking, this is so embarrassing...etc. I’ve been brought to tears whilst running and even burst into tears at the end of a run – and this is just a mediocre 5k, no marathons or charity runs here! It was absolute torture and whilst I felt proud completing the run I absolutely hated everything else about it. I fell out of love with exercise for a while last year and running was one of the first things to go when I decided I needed my work outs to be fun to be able to keep them as a solid habit. Of course, I don’t always want to work out and nothing is ever gonna be fun every time but I could easily do a million things that I hate less than running, which got me thinking about how much I missed kicking and punching stuff.
As if by magic, 9Round had come to town and was setting up in a unit a short walk from my house. I eagerly awaited it’s opening and once I found out more, I just knew it was totally my thing! Everything I loved about my previous boxercise classes; circuits, cardio, pad-work – but with none of the sparring or shadow boxing which I absolutely hate. Usually in a class you’ll partner up with someone else (great if you’ve got a pal of the same fitness level) and you’ll go through drills together, taking turns between the gloves and pads. However, the downside of that is when you’re partnered with someone who has a different ability to you or, sometimes, they simply just do the pad-work differently – punching floppy pads on the end of someones weak arms is an easy way for you to both get hurt. 9Round, however, is always trainer led drills so you’re not expected to punch each-other and they also have lots of different bags to try rather than the standard beat-up gym punching bag. I got in touch with the local team and ended up setting up a partnership to help them with promoting the new venue in exchange for training there.
My first time, I was really nervous – and that’s coming from someone who not only loves boxing but went to boxercise classes for years so I have more experience than the average person turning up for trials. Unfortunately, I was just hyper-aware that my fitness was way down and felt like I was going to embarrass myself or have a full blown asthma/panic attack! I was a bit under the weather when the day came, and I definitely only made it to round six haha! But I knew I could do better and was excited to progress – I ended up there for ages just chatting to Lauren (who also snapped these photos for me!) and Freddie (pictured above, too cool for Instagram), who are both awesome personalities but, most importantly, actually know what they’re talking about and are always open with offering advice. They both have a really positive and healthy relationship with fitness, as well as experience, which surprisingly isn’t something that can be said for everyone working in the industry. Having the trainers there makes such a difference to your work out – not only are they motivating you the entire time and always on hand for any questions, but if you’re struggling with anything (be it ability or injury-based) they will be able to give you different variations of the work-outs to suit your current needs.
The USP of 9Round Southampton is the promise of a full-body work-out in only 30minutes, waiting for you at whatever time you want it. A new work-out starts on rotation every 3minutes and is comprised of 9 circuits; skipping, followed by something weight-based before moving onto 6 rounds utilising different kickboxing techniques and different bag styles before finishing with a tough abs circuit at round 9. The actual exercises change every single day, so you’ll never know what’s in store before you arrive which helps stop me from getting bored – one of the reasons I absolutely cannot use work-out videos (even yoga!) at home, I just know ‘that move I hate’ is coming next and eye roll myself to an early grave before I can finish the actual routine. The first two rounds are great for strength and conditioning whilst warming up but the fun part is definitely kicking and punching the bags (or trainers!). There are heavy bags to build power, double ended bags to increase coordination and timing, and speed bags to develop shoulder conditioning and speed – plus a lot of concentration. Boxing really works out the mind, especially in the trainer drills where you’ll go through a routine, which I find gets harder and harder to remember as I get more tired!
During the workout, you wear a MyZone belt which analyses your heart rate and, matched with your weight statistics, will tell you how many calories you’re burning (on a nice big screen so you can see this from wherever you are) as well as how much effort you’re putting in. I am not competitive at all, so I am definitely guilty of not putting in 100% effort when I have done classes in the past but sometimes I worry I’m pushing it ‘too much’ because my breathing is so terrible but, using these analytics, I can keep an eye on my heart-rate (easily gets up over 190!) and then my ‘effort’ percentage so I can try and recover before I carry on. This adjusts over time once they work out you are fitter now and have to put more effort in to keep in those top zones, so there’s no slacking a few weeks in!
This 30minute workout burns around 500 calories on average (my first time I did 600, but now it’s more like 400 whereas my sister always gets over 500) but I have seen one insane man go round and round the circuits burning 2500 calories…I wouldn’t recommend this, but going round twice or doing a couple extra rounds if you’re looking for specific calorie-based results is easily done, and the membership isn’t limited in that respect. You can turn up as often as you like and stay for as long as you like to boost your stamina, reduce stress and strengthen your heart as well as muscles all over the body. The workouts are timed alongside the trainers via a traffic light system and beeps; green is go, amber means you have 30seconds left to push before the end of the round and red means it’s break time! You’ll get 30seconds break (it should be active rest but…nah) before the warning beep will tell you to get started on the next round. If you’re competitive, there’s also member of the month and challenge of the week to take part in, which is usually based off of reps where the highest score wins.
If you have very little time or find yourself stuck in a rut, 9Round is a great way to mix up your routine and combine cardio and resistance training in only 30minutes. This could be before work, after work or some even squeeze it into their lunch break – there are shower and locker facilities to make this a little easier. You can book a free trial here (gloves and wraps are sorted for you, don’t worry) and I’ve even managed to get my sister hooked; an avid anti-exercise campaigner. This new boost of energy and healthy mindset has even rolled onto pushing her to quit smoking as well which is just amazing. This is a routine suitable for all levels because the work-out really is what you make it, you can concentrate on harder punches or faster reps, even just technique at the start. Each round comes with a beginners and advanced movement which are both further customisable by the trainers – if you’ve never worked out before, you can start with less rounds or just take longer breaks in between. If you do decide to sign up, they’ll provide you a 9Round kit bag with gloves, wraps, the MyZone belt and a bag to keep them all in. These gloves are actually really good as well, I’ve used a bunch in the past and these have a great fit and aren’t too soft, plus, it’s nice to have your own as most gyms will just provide stinky old gloves where the insides crumble up between your fingers – bleurgh!
The recommendation is to get three of these work outs in a week, trackable in the MyZone app which syncs to the belt so you’ll be notified of how well you’re doing towards this goal as well as how to step it up. I don’t pay too much attention to this because I do so many other workouts but my sister loves the app and keeping an eye on her stats. There are always new deals on, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those but the price is usually around £59 a month (no contract) – which at first sounds quite expensive to a lot of people. It is pricey compared to a basic gym membership but this isn’t a basic gym membership, I truly believe you’re getting something very different with this. With combat classes like boxercise or kickboxing at a normal gym, you will often pay at least £5 extra per class, meaning that with the recommended three sessions a week you could be spending up to £80 a month. When compared to actual personal training, you will be saving hundreds – I’ve tried both these options at my previous gym, and whilst I enjoyed both variants, they were definitely more expensive than 9Round is. Gym memberships might be a luxury item when you have energy bills and rent coming out of your ears, but they’re also great for you mental and physical health so if you can afford the expenditure I believe it’s totally worth it. It’s the same as buy a cup of coffee a day on the way to work or even just a few pints a week.
The best way to get fitter and stay that way is for the fitness aspect to be a side effect of something you enjoy, you’ll never keep it up otherwise and I think boxing is something everyone should have a go at. Do you have any hobbies that also keep you fit?