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Meet Shaun Berner and Tina Valaouras, Owners of 9Round

A Branford couple has brought a kick-boxing gym, 9Round, to Central Plaza in North Branford.

Meet Shaun Berner and Tina Valaouras, Owners of 9Round Meet Shaun Berner and Tina Valaouras, Owners of 9Round

When Shaun Berner’s company changed hands, he had the chance to move to Canada to continue working, but his wife Tina Valaouras said, “I’ll go warmer, I won’t go colder,” so the job search began.

Berner attended job fairs and he was struck by the number of fitness franchises that were available. He earned his black belt last year, while his wife is a certified physical trainer–and both are kick-boxers.

The couple–who lives in Branford with their three children ages 10, 8 and 5–decided to take a leap of faith and invest in a franchise, which opened its doors in North Branford’s Central Plaza in March.

North Branford Patch: What attracted you to the 9Round franchise?

Berner: The main thing is that we have three children and 9Round can be run with one person to start off. One of us can run the gym and other can attend to commitments. We talked at length with a franchise owner in January (2011), went to the headquarters in North Carolina in February where we met the owner who designed the program, toured five or six gyms in the area, talked to the owners and customers and went through the workout. We left there very excited and started looking at locations in the area.

North Branford Patch: What attracted you to the space in Central Plaza?

Berner: We wanted something close to home and we looked in Branford, North Branford and Guilford, but went as far as Orange and North Haven. It took a long time to find the right location. We signed the franchise documents in June and didn’t sign the lease until Jan. 4 (2012). We like the Branford and North Branford are big towns with a small-town feel. This plaza is very busy and the building itself had a lot of attributes we needed like steel beams to hang the bags.

North Branford Patch: How was the process of opening a business in town?

Berner: North Branford has been fantastic. The process of getting in was excellent. The really helped us out with everything we needed to do and there were no hiccups.

North Branford Patch: Describe the workouts at 9Round.

Berner: We love the workouts because they’re 30-minute circuits with no class times so any time we’re open you can come in. It is boxing and kick-boxing focused, but we mix it up with weight training, jump-roping and exercises between each (of the nine) stations. It’s a total body workout, head to toe. Every workout is different and fun and we change it up every single day so when you leave, we hope another muscle group hurts. There’s always a (9Round-certified) trainer on the floor to motivate you.

North Branford Patch:  Do you need a membership?

Berner: As long as you sign the waiver, the first workout is always free. We really want to encourage people to come in and see if it’s something they like. Then we sit down and go over different options–plans include coming twice a week, unlimited weekly visits and monthly, six-month or annual memberships. Honestly most people do it once and get hooked and say, ‘I’ve never sweat like this at the gym before.’ Our trial to conversion rate is very high.

North Branford Patch: What do you enjoy most about your new job?

Berner: This is a total conversion from my previous 9 to 5 and I love it. Before I had a commute, saw the people at work, come home to see the kids and did it again. Now I’m in the community, meeting new people. Though there’s a lot that goes into this, we’re no strangers to hard work. We also love seeing people succeed and meet goals. We have people who have only been here a few weeks and have already lost 10 pounds or who couldn’t do a pushup when they started and now they’re doing pushups on their toes.

You can also check out 9Round's Facebook page.

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