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Future of Fitness

Aug 26, 2020

Shannon Hudson grew up in the Martial Arts Industry. As a child, he picked up amateur boxing and kickboxing and did Karate tournaments, which led to a professional career in 2003 as a kickboxer and boxer.

He got the opportunity to fight on Chuck Norris’s World Combat League in 2003. Hudson has managed to fight all over, he has fought in France, the US, and Switzerland. In 2011 he received an opportunity to fight for the IPF World Title, where he won the title. His experience and love for Martial Arts led him to open 9Rounds. 

What do you think attributed to that fast growth - when you got 100 members in 30 days - to? 

  • There is no class time tied to the classes, so the members can never be late. They can just come in and get started in a class when they have time. 
  • Each session is a full-body workout in 30 minutes. 
  • The workouts change every single day, this meant members did not do the same thing every time they came in. 
  • People enjoy having someone there to instruct them and help them through the sessions. 

Do you think there is a flip side to this model - some challenges that come along with it?

  • Hudson says that there are definitely a few challenges that they face with this model, during COVID they had to switch to a schedule to keep the capacity low. 
  • Everyday Hudson comes across complaints surrounding the introduction of the schedule, people are not happy about scheduling. 

What was your mindset to approaching 9Rounds and building it from a bootstrap method?

  • Hudson says when they reached 40 locations, they took on a partner and a minority partner. 
  • Big mistake entrepreneurs have the tendency to do is to try to raise capital too early, instead, they should be disciplined with the money and grow their business through that. 
  • Hudson says that the difficult times they went through living on a budget taught him valuable lessons that he would not replace for anything. 

How many locations do you have globally now?

  • 9Rounds has 750 locations across 19 countries. 

What markets have you picked up growth on that you did not see coming?

  • Hudson says that Saudi Arabia and the Middle East locations were the most surprising to him. 
  • There are locations in Middle Eastern places that have 600 members. 

What has been one of the more challenging markets for you?

  • Japan was found to be difficult as most people do not speak English, the culture is very respectful and conservative. 
  • Opening locations in Japan were slower than anticipated.

Are there any competitors you run into the most?

  • Secondary competitors are Orangetheory and F45 - which are growing rapidly. 
  • Primary competitors to Hudson would be anyone that punches and kicks for fitness. 
  • Mayweather Boxing, Title Boxing, iLoveKickboxing, and Beachbody are amongst the names Hudson keeps his eyes on. 

What are the dimensions you are looking for space-wise?

  • 1200 - 1500 square feet is the desired size, the room needs to be controllable. 
  • These dimensions make it possible to keep sessions intimate. 

How do you put people through on ramping so they can get to workouts?

  • 9Rounds created an online training system that has a test behind it, it is over 6 hours of training modules to get a trainer certified by brand standards. 
  • 9Rounds has taken their Kickboxing program and have turned that into an accredited course. 

How are you adjusting and coping with COVID?

  • Hudson found the transition to be challenging but believes it ultimately brought people closer. 
  • The crisis forced 9Rounds to think about the different types of customers in the marketplace - the old fashioned, the homebody, and the retail customer. 
  • The business model had to be shifted to accommodate these customers and shifted to an online program - with over 140 filmed. 
  • 9Rounds’ goal is to get more people, and helping all three types of customers. 

Are you looking at any solutions to how people may get equipment at home? 

  • There is a shortage of kettlebells, but not boxing gloves, 9Rounds is looking at designing a workout bag for home. 
  • Hudson says the required equipment is not disrupted for them. 

How do you think the fitness industry will be different with this new normal? 

  • Hudson believes that 20 - 25% will not reopen, 9Rounds has even lost a few locations. 
  • The offerings to consumers will be different, catering to a wider variety of customers. 

What has been one of the biggest personal challenges you face as an entrepreneur? 

  • There are not many people Hudson finds that thinks as he does, therefore it can be lonely. 
  • Poor communication is a big cause of Hudsons challenges. 

What is one of the biggest needs do you have as a business right now? 

  • Hudson is in the search for talented executives. 
  • A new VP of ops is desired. 

Are there any last thoughts you would like to share with the audience?

  • Being an entrepreneur can be very stressful. 
  • Go and move around, exercise, change your state physically. 


Website: 9round

LinkedIn: Shannon Hudson

Facebook: 9Round Fitness