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Empowering Voices: Black Business Owners Share Their 9Round Story


One of 9Round's core values is the commitment to "Love People," and this includes embracing the rich diversity within our fitness community. We are proud to celebrate Black History Month by spotlighting some of our remarkable 9Round owners. Delve into their inspiring narratives about becoming franchisees and contributing to the fitness industry and join us in celebrating the extraordinary stories of Black entrepreneurs at 9Round.

 

“9Round

Photo courtesy of Isaiah Peel 

What inspired you to become a 9Round owner, and how has your journey been in the fitness industry?

“I was once 270 pounds and 9Round changed my life as a member, becoming physically fit to become a trainer, so it was only right to invest back into the brand that helped me transform my life!”

    Isaiah Peel, owner of 9Round Independence, MO

 

How do you perceive the role of fitness and community engagement in celebrating Black excellence and promoting wellness?

“There is a huge responsibility to uphold for the black community, as the numbers of minority business owners, specifically African Americans, are on the lower end of the spectrum. Being in this role motivates me to encourage people who look like me that you can have a successful business while also changing the narrative.”

    Isaiah Peel, owner of 9Round Independence, MO

 

What does Black History Month mean to you personally, and how do you hope to commemorate it through your role as a fitness entrepreneur?

“We are creating history as we speak…I think back to the past where this opportunity would be laughable and illegal for someone who looked like me. Being in this position is a blessing and it sheds light on the work that has been put in for people of color to triumph over these obstacles!”

    Isaiah Peel, owner of 9Round Independence, MO

 


“9Round

Photo courtesy of Wanda Brisco

How do you perceive the role of fitness and community engagement in celebrating Black excellence and promoting wellness? 

“I perceive my role as a multifaceted one. For example, we can encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits, provide access to affordable healthcare, fitness, and wellness resources. We can create and foster a sense of community and belonging through our activities in our local communities and celebrate those Black champions and pioneers of health who have made significant contributions to the field. Black fitness professionals can play a key role in promoting wellness by working together to create a healthier current and next generation.”

    Wanda Brisco, owner of 9Round Waldorf, MD

 

In what ways do you believe your fitness studio contributes to the empowerment and health of the Black community specifically? 

“Our fitness studio plays a vital role in promoting the health and empowerment of not just Black, but our entire community. We provide fitness resources that are affordable and well-rounded. We are big believers in fostering a sense of family, community and belonging. Our members know we genuinely care about their mental and physical wellness and when they enter our doors, we listen, and we serve their needs. 

We host community outdoor workouts starting in the spring and throughout the year for those who might not have the financial means to afford us. We try to lead by example, but we also keep it realistic. 

Our studio constantly promotes healthy habits, in our efforts to help Black individuals achieve their health and wellness goals. The 9Round 30-minute circuit-style workouts and 24/7 access are perfect for busy schedules. By providing access to these and other fitness resources, we can empower the Black community to take control of their health and well-being.”

    Wanda Brisco, owner of 9Round Waldorf, MD 

 

Are there any historical figures or modern leaders within the fitness world or the Black community who inspire your work or approach to fitness? 

I like Wilma Rudolph; she was an American Sprinter who overcame polio to become a world record holder in track and field in the 1960s and NBA star Michael Jordan. Both had an impeccable work ethic and strived for excellence in all aspects of their professional lives.”

    Wanda Brisco, owner of 9Round Waldorf, MD

 


 

“9Round

Photo courtesy of Bryant Woodson

Could you share a bit about your background and upbringing, and how it influenced your path to entrepreneurship in the fitness realm?  

“I am a retired Marine, having spent over 20 years in the United States Marine Corps. In the service is where I found my love for fitness. As a former amateur bodybuilder, the lover for competition and pushing my body to its fullest potential became a personal goal. As for entrepreneurship, post military retirement I realized that I wanted to have more control over my professional career and the work I was doing. I’ve always wanted to be a coach in some form and to leverage the leadership skills gained while serving my country and my education (MBA). So, what better way to employ all three than to open a fitness studio!”

— Bryant Woodson, owner of 9Round Manassas, VA

 

In what ways do you believe your fitness studio contributes to the empowerment and health of the Black community specifically? 

“Our studio, in my opinion is meant to be an example.  An example that we are not bound by our environments or upbringing.  Every time a person of color joins our gym, I want them to be proud to know that the establishment that they now belong to is a black owned establishment where excellence is the rule not the exception, and this is a place where everyone, black, white, Asian, straight, or gay is welcome because fitness and wellness has no color or gender!”

— Bryant Woodson, owner of 9Round Manassas, VA

 

Can you highlight some of the proudest moments or milestones you've achieved as a Black entrepreneur in the fitness sector?

“My proudest moments are when new prospects come in while I am training or being trained, and I introduce myself as the business owner; because they not only get to see me talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Many times, their eyes get a bit wider and their attention a little more acute. They are taken back on all fronts because the stereotype is broken instantaneously.

 — Bryant Woodson, owner of 9Round Manassas, VA

 


 

“9Round

Photo courtesy of Christopher Lawson

What inspired you to become a 9Round owner, and how has your journey been in the fitness industry?

“I’ve been working out at 9Round since Spring 2017. I instantly fell in love with the boxing/kickboxing fitness concept. After a few months working out at 9Round, I felt stronger and could see my physical body changing. I had more muscle definition, less body fat, looked younger in the face, and felt younger in energy and spirit.  

After the pandemic, I noticed the Laurel franchise facing challenges. As 9Round has always been my preferred exercise choice, I was keen on supporting the studio and ensuring its continued success. I called the owner to negotiate a deal for me to purchase the franchise. Purchasing the franchise provides me a safe place to continue working out, satisfy my entrepreneurial itch, and provide a healthy service to the community.  I purchased the franchise for the love of the 9Round brand and love for fitness, and not the money. I believe that there is money to be made if my 9Round provides exemplary service to our community.”

    Christopher Lawson, owner of 9Round Laurel, MD

 

How do you perceive the role of fitness and community engagement in celebrating Black excellence and promoting wellness?  

“At the age of 52, 9Round Fitness has eliminated my thoughts and fears about aging because I feel younger than I’ve ever felt in my life.  I am presently the same weight as I was 34 years ago.  I would like to see every Black American experience the happiness and confidence I feel as a result of working out at 9Round three days a week.  My role is to exemplify fitness and continuously get out in the Black community to promote wellness.  Social media and outdoor events are major ways that I promote wellness and fitness.”

    Christopher Lawson, owner of 9Round Laurel, MD

 

In what ways do you believe your fitness studio contributes to the empowerment and health of the Black community specifically?

"I am a Black American business owner who proudly uses the 9Round product. My name, face, and studio are attracting increasing Black community members to the studio because of the passion, energy, confidence, and health that I radiate. 

I attend community events and coach youth athletics. I plan to sponsor youth athletic teams once profitability is sustained. As a franchise owner for only one year, I see my studio becoming the “go-to” venue for the best exercise program in my community." 

    Christopher Lawson, owner of 9Round Laurel, MD

 


9Round owner holding gloves and champion belt inside kickboxing studio

Photo courtesy of Eric Friall

How do you perceive the role of fitness and community engagement in celebrating Black excellence and promoting wellness?

Fitness is a critical part of the overall segment of health and wellness, especially when it comes to obesity and diabetes. Our 9Round motto, “making members stronger, physically and mentally, in 30 minutes” is very powerful. Our studio embraces this, and our members feel it. When people walk into the studio and say, "I needed this today,” you know you are doing more than just supporting their physical goals. In my short time as an owner, I’ve witnessed people add years to their lives by getting in better shape.  

    Eric Friall, owner of 9Round, Tallahassee, FL

 

In what ways do you believe your fitness studio contributes to the empowerment and health of the Black community specifically?

"In the Black community, we are especially proud to sponsor youth sessions to encourage strength and physical prowess at a time when society wants to quiet them. Kickboxing requires discipline, accuracy, persistence, focus, and stamina. Our youth need these lessons. Our adults need this. Our community needs this. People walk out of the studio feeling accomplished and in better shape than when they walked in.

In our adult segment, we enjoy having the members of Black Girls Run (BGR) with us for cross-training as they prepare for their neighborhood walks and marathons. Combining the results of a walk/run program with a few 9Round sessions per month produces dramatic results."

    Eric Friall, owner of 9Round, Tallahassee, FL

 

Are there any historical figures or modern leaders within the fitness world or the Black community who inspire your work or approach to fitness?

Mike Tyson—“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." This is my single favorite quote. When the speaker at the 2023 9Round World Convention spoke about what separated the championship skier from the rest was the time she got back up from a bad fall really touched me. My modified version of this message is: "Show up, get back up, repeat." When you don’t feel like working out, just come in and start with three rounds. You’ll end up doing all nine rounds. Soon the lesson sinks in that deciding NOT to show up or NOT to try something is the ONLY time you fail. And yes, life punches us all in the mouth, but stick to your plan and always get back up.

    Eric Friall, owner of 9Round, Tallahassee, FL

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