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Strength, Sweat and the Shops of Grand Avenue

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Strength, Sweat and the Shops of Grand Avenue

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

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Head down Wisconsin Avenue on a Saturday morning, walk inside The Shops of Grand Avenue and you may hear a DJ blasting tunes.

Follow the music, and it leads to a gym with red walls called 9Round. Greeting people at the front desk is the location’s five-year owner and Marquette alumna Delia Luna.

“What we do is we take cardio and strength training at the same time and combine it into a circuit routine,” Luna says. “It’s for all fitness levels. Our job as trainers is just to push everybody to do their best.”

The alumna chooses Milwaukee for her 9Round location because of her ties to Marquette and love for the city.

Unlike a typical membership-based gym, 9Round incorporates kickboxing as part of its workouts, and there are no class times or appointments.

This gym has a circuit system where there are a total of nine rounds, hence the name 9Round. Each round consists of three-minute timed workouts with either strength training, kickboxing fitness or abs and core workouts. Kickboxing starts on round three and ends on round eight.

“The heavy base that we have here, by punching and kicking the base, the resistance of it, that’s where you’ll build and tone your muscles,” Luna explains. “If you think about the resistance of punching a 100-pound bag, you’ll notice the change and definition of your muscles.”

9Round always has at least one trainer on the floor to help throughout a workout. Depending on the time of day, there could be up to three trainers.

“You’ll never not know what to do,” Luna says. “The workouts change daily so you’ll never get bored. Trainers will make sure that you’re doing it properly and keeping you motivated during that time frame. There’s no class times or appointments so you just show up, and the rounds literally go off every three minutes.”

Luna says some of her routine clients include professional athletes from the NBA, NFL and MLS. 86 percent of Luna’s 250 members are 25 or younger.

Although some students are from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee School of Engineering, many of the members, like first-year dental students Carly Kirkpatrick, Gabbie Pung and Maddy Zastrow, come from Marquette.

Pung is the one who convinced Kirkpatrick and Zastrow to join her at 9Round in September 2018.

“Prior to coming to school, I wanted to try with one of my friends who had been going to 9Round for a couple of months,” Pung describes. “I was working out at a different gym … (but) I was looking for something else to do when I moved to Milwaukee.”

Already, the trio has learned how to work out in a style that is better than if they had a trainer, in terms of gaining strength. They never stop sweating through the duration of their workout.

“It definitely makes me incorporate high-intensity workouts … I usually won’t do that on my own,” Zastrow says. “I really wasn’t familiar with that before (I started at 9Round).”

“I didn’t go in with a lot of upper arm strength,” Kirkpatrick says. “So being able to incorporate boxing into it is definitely a really good arm workout. That’s something I feel like I was lacking just doing cardio or abs.”

Kirkpatrick, Pung and Zastrow say they have become very close with the staff, and 9Round isn’t usually overcrowded, so they are able to get one-on-one time with the trainers.

“They always make accommodations if we’re trying to work on specific areas or if we want to do specific workouts,” Kirkpatrick says.

“They teach you the different punches or kicks that you would do,” Pung says. “At each station they’ll tell you, ‘We want you to do this combination of punches and kicks’ or ‘We want you to do all these punches.’”

Plus they’ve learned the correct stances and footings as if they were going to be in a boxing match.

According to all three dental students, the best part about 9Round is it’s just down Wisconsin Avenue.

“It’s a five-minute ride, so the convenience factor is really nice,” Kirkpatrick says. “We’re really busy with school, … so it’s nice to just do a 35-minute workout with a trainer guiding you and everything. You can get there and back within an hour, which is awesome.”

The one drawback is the lack of student discounts. Luna says the membership plans span from one-year terms to month-by-month payments. There are also day passes for $20, but $88-$120 is the common monthly membership fee for 9Round. The membership includes unlimited workouts at the gym.

“I was able to offer (a deal to students) at one point in time. But the franchise … set a minimum across the board, and we’re at the minimum,” Luna says.

Kirkpatrick, Pung and Zastrow, who pay about $79 per month, believe there should be a student discount at 9Round, but they appreciate the services 9Round offers.

“It’s reasonable compared to other gyms. It would be nice if it was a little less,” Pung says. “I’m debating on keeping the membership just because it is that extra cost, and I do actually have a gym in my apartment building. It’s just harder for me to pick out a workout and do it myself.”

Luna, who recommends going at least three times per week, says she has seen significant results from her clients. Sometimes men will lose up to 30 pounds. As her clients lose weight, she’s looking to make professional gains by expanding her business.

“In the end I really want to focus on the two locations and just getting to know my members and helping them succeed in their goals,” Luna says. “We’ve grown pretty fast over the last five years, so I’m excited to see the brand growing.”

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