9Round: Fitness that packs a punch


Kate Kermicle ducks while sparring 9Round Gym owner Ben Tate during a workout session.

There are very few times in life when it’s appropriate to punch something — no matter how much you dislike your mother-in-law.


I admit it. As a kid, I was always picked last and eliminated first for dodge ball. Beyond having the athleticism of a sloth and the speed of a turtle, I have absolutely no hand-eye coordination. So for this girl, the idea of a kickboxing and boxing workout was intimidating, to say the least.

When Ben Tate, owner of Chattanooga’s 9Round fitness center, explained that the studio’s clientele was 60 percent female, I was pretty skeptical. For me, the word “boxing” brought to mind bloody scenes from “Cinderella Man” and “Rocky,” which seemed a little rough and tough for the fairer sex.

All that changed when I started making my way through the nine rounds at the East Brainerd gym, which are comprised of old-school exercises — think push-ups, upper-cuts and kicks — developed by a professional fighter.

It was super empowering — not to mention stress relieving – to don the boxing gloves and successfully punch and kick my way through the stations in the room. Although each round lasted only three minutes, I had no idea how long that really was until I experienced three minutes of medicine ball sit-ups which left me sweating, shaking and swearing under my breath at the timer.

I’m still no Hilary Swank, but Ben says I punch hard, and that combined with the post-workout soreness is enough in itself to make me feel pretty badass.

(Cue the “Rocky” theme song.)

Fortunately, 9Round boxing and kickboxing fitness gym is a socially acceptable way to blow off steam after stressful holiday reunions with your family, not to mention a way to lose some of the weight gained after several helpings of deep-fried turkey and Grandma’s pumpkin pie.

“Most of the people that come in the door have never done boxing or kickboxing before,” says Ben Tate, owner of the East Brainerd gym. “We kind of cater the workout to them.” The 30-minute workout is set up as a circuit, with nine different stations or “rounds” made up of different types of exercises such as medicine ball sit-ups, kettle ball swings and, of course, punches and kicks using the bags. Each round lasts for 3 minutes with 30 seconds of “active rest” in between where participants do exercises such as jumping jacks or burpees before the timer goes off and they move to the next round.

“The first time we’re going to show you some different punches and give you a good workout,” says Tate. “We’ll start with something like jump rope. Then we’ll start heavy bag work and show you kicks and punches to do and keep you working and busy. As you go though each station, we’ll keep you motivated.”

Although there are no class times and participants can come whenever they want, there are always trainers on hand to coach them through each station and provide encouragement. “It’s fun and it’s fast paced. You never do the same thing twice and you don’t have to think about it,” says Tate. “You don’t do the same routine you always do. You’ll have someone say, ‘Here’s what you’re going to do’ and keep you motivated. It’s great to see them go through and in the end they have a great endorphin rush. That’s what I really enjoy about this workout.”

When Tate started doing 9Round, he says he had been sedentary for nine years and was overweight. “This is one of those things that makes you better,” he says. “I started doing this and fell in love with it and with being fit.”

Tate isn’t the only one who says they have turned their life around with the help of 9Round. Ashley Francis, a former day care worker, completely changed careers to become a personal trainer at 9Round. “This place has been life changing. I started as a member 11 months ago. I was 80 pounds heavier and I could barely walk that far. I had a friend that drug me in here,” she says. “The weight I had before started falling off. This was something that I never thought about pursuing. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

As there are no machines or heavy weights, the workout is open to any age range. Tate says that his youngest member is 14 years old and his oldest member is 68. Participants can go at their own pace, doing as many repetitions as they can in each round, while slowly increasing their pace as they go.

“We didn’t invent any of these workouts, but the difference is you’re going to get that interval training, motivation, attention from a trainer … but it’s affordable,” says Tate.

“We charge $39 a month. You can’t find that anywhere else with the amount of attention you would get from a trainer — plus, it’s fun to punch and kick stuff.”

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