9 Things I Love About Working Out at 9Round

After nearly two years of not doing more than long walks and a little pre-natal yoga, then a month-and-a-half of talking about the fact that I needed to start exercising again, I finally went and tried a free session at 9Round.

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Not exactly a gym and definitely not a class, 9Round is a franchised fitness center that promises results with its 30-minute kickboxing-inspired circuit training. While it’s similar to other cross-training programs I’ve done, 9Round makes the most sense for my life right now because it’s easy to get in and out quickly.

By the end of my first session I was sore and sweaty, and I handed over my debit card to sign up. Here’s why.

1. The workouts are only 30 minutes.

As a busy working mom with very limited childcare, I don’t really have time to work out for an entire hour multiple times a week. But the 9Round workout is a quick 30 minutes: I spend three minutes at each station (or round) and there’s 30 seconds in between each one.

2. I can do anything for 3 minutes.

Okay, maybe I can’t do pushups for three minutes straight. Yet. But I can try. Just about every exercise seems less intimidating when I know I only have to do it for 180 seconds. And if I’m having trouble, the trainer can offer encouragement or correct me on my form. And if that makes it harder, who cares? I’m less than three minutes from the end!

3. There’s no class time.

Even before I had a kid, I had trouble getting anywhere on time. And to be honest, the thought of missing expensive personal training sessions or showing up late for group classes because the sitter was late or the baby fell asleep on me definitely contributed to my inactivity. But with 9Round, I just show up whenever I can and jump into the first circuit (or another if that one is full). Every 3 minutes and 30 seconds, a new workout begins.

4. I get to hit shit.

Since November 8, I’ve been a mess of stress and emotions. If the news isn’t making me sad, it’s making me angry. But imagining a literal punching bag is our new president, and then hitting and kicking it as hard as I can, has been surprisingly good for my mental and emotional state.

5. I don’t compare myself to anyone around me.

Unlike a group class, at 9Round I’m not constantly comparing myself to the other people working out at the same time. Sure, the buff dude in the headband may be running around the room holding a tire over his head, but that has nothing to do with me punching Donald Trump. And when it’s my turn to run with the tire, it’s way less noticeable that Headband Dude runs twice as fast as I do.

6. It’s fairly affordable.

While different locations offer different pricing structures, the fact that I can work out for well under $100 a month as often as I want (9Round is open 6 days a week) is pretty great. And the more often I go, the less I’m spending per session.

7. The gear is included.

Joining a specialized gym or signing up with a trainer may not be prohibitively expensive everywhere, but if you have to buy special gear, it adds up. With my 9Round membership fee, I got boxing gloves, wrist wraps and a heart monitor.

8. I can visit other gyms when I travel.

Because it’s a franchise, my membership entitles me to work out in any 9Round center in the country. Which means that when I go on one of my next food-centric vacations, I can at least work off a few desserts.

9. I feel like I’ve worked hard when I leave.

As much as I love yoga, or going for long walks or even slow jogs, those activities never really make me feel like I’m truly working my body. But when I’m done at 9Round, I usually need to just lie on the mat for a few minutes. Because I can’t move. And the next day, I hurt. In a good way, of course.

I promise no one paid me to write this. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I’m paying them! 

5 Hidden Sources of Sugar and Carbs

Cutting out bread, pasta and desserts is a great way to get started on a low-carb diet. But if you’re really trying to lose weight and having a hard time, there may be too many carbs sneaking into your system.

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Here are five sources of hidden sugar and carbs.

1. Protein Bars and Shakes
If you stop to read the label on protein bars and shakes, you’ll see that in addition to protein, they’re usually packed with carbs. That’s because these convenience food items are meant to offer a quick source of energy (a.k.a. carbs) along with a protein boost to people who do hard-core workouts and need it for recovery. But if you’re simply trying to slim down, steer clear of these products.

2. Sauces
While you can usually pass over potatoes, pasta and rice in favor of protein and green vegetables when eating out, be wary of sauces if you’re on a low-carb diet. Some barbecue sauces have an upward of 10 grams of carbs per 2-tablespoon serving. Italian red sauces are often sweetened with sugar, while most French sauces are started with a roux — flour and butter. Even the not-so-sweet sauces in Chinese restaurants can be deceiving, as they may contain cornstarch, as well as some sugar. When in doubt, ask for your sauce on the side and use as little as possible. (Same goes for condiments like ketchup, and many salad dressings.)

3. Dairy
Low-carb dieters already know to steer-clear of foods labeled “low fat,” because low fat usually equals high sugar. But what about the stuff that’s high in fat? While good-quality cheese is a great snack for low-carb dieters, watch out for other dairy products — especially milk and yogurt, even if they’re not flavored. An 8-ounce glass of Horizon organic whole milk has 12 grams of carbohydrates while a single-serving 6-ounce Brown Cow whole milk yogurt has 9.

4. Beef Jerky
How bad can beef jerky be? It’s just meat, right? Wrong. Jerkys get their intense flavor from sugars and spices, and depending on how much you’re eating, that can really add up for a carb counter. As always, read the label. Try to pick a variety that has the fewest carbs per serving, and don’t pretend you can eat as much as you want because it’s “just meat.” (That said, I still turn to beef jerky as a snack fairly often, but I am aware of the carbs I’m consuming and try to make up for it elsewhere in my diet.)

5. Spices and Seasonings
This is the one that bums me out the most, as I use lots of bold seasonings to distract me from the fact that I’m not eating bread, pasta, rice and more. But be careful when it comes to flavoring your meats and veggies. Barbecue and poultry rubs are packed with sugar; it’s why they taste so damn good. Even worse is that I recently learned even seasonings like garlic and onion powder are often contain sugar (dextrose) as a filler in addition to the carbs that naturally occur in the garlic and onions. It’s usually not listed on the label, so if you’re really worried about your carb intake and think your garlic powder may be more than just dehydrated, granulated garlic, check the nutrition information on the company’s website. If it’s not there, write them and ask for it. And if they’re not willing to share, maybe it’s time to find another brand.