by Lauren Odomirok

HUNTERSVILLE – Loud, pop music blasts from the sound system while Tarrah Johnson challenges herself to jump rope for three minutes.

“Push it, Tarrah! Come on, you can do it!” shouts 9Round Gym co-owner James Brochu.

“I love coming to 9Round Gym because it’s like having your own trainer,” Johnson said. “You get that kind of attention, but you don’t have to pay for it.”

The 9Round Gym franchise, a series of specialized fitness centers that blend professional boxing and kickboxing techniques into a full-body circuit training workout for the masses, was the brainchild of Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson. Hudson is the IKF Light Middleweight Kickboxing Champion of the World.

For the gym, he envisioned a way to combine aerobic, anaerobic and resistance-building exercises through activities such as weight training and hitting a speed bag.

Visitors can enter 9Round at any time of day, cycle through nine ever-changing stations within a half hour and receive tips and encouragement from trainers before heading back out the door.

Huntersville’s location is owned by James Brochu and Quinton Teal, a former NFL player for the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers.  The pair were teammates at Coastal Carolina University.

“If you came every day, you’ll never do the same workout twice,” Teal promised. “We don’t want you to get bored, so we always switch it up.”

Since July 2008, Hudson’s franchise has expanded to 17 states with other locations in western North Carolina including Asheville, Charlotte, Gastonia and Matthews.

“There’s no class times to make. You cannot use the excuse you were late for class because there’s a session starting every three minutes, all day, with a trainer. Where else can you find that?” said Heather Hudson, Shannon’s wife and co-founder of 9Round Franchising.

Gail Greenough, known to Teal and Brochu as “Storm Trouper” in the gym, is so in love with 9Round that she has been there every day except Thanksgiving for the past month.

“I did circuit training in high school and loved it, really responded to it. But I never found it again until now,” she said. “The short timeframe is really doable for me.”

Shannon says the secret is in the combination of cardio, resistance training, and anaerobic training which continuously keeps the heart rate high for short periods of time, increasing stamina and strength.

“I started 9Round because I wanted to bring real training to the average person. Training that professionals do. They actually jump rope, they hit the heavy bags, and they hit the speed bags,” he said.

Greenough said the best part about the workout environment is that people can pace themselves within the circuit. Heather Hudson noticed similar phenomena.

“We can have all fitness levels in the room at the same time. It’s just amazing that I can have my lady with the two knee replacements working out at station one, and right next to her on station two, I can have my triathlete.”