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How to respectfully modernize a martial art with Hit House founder Tyler Scott

WIX FIT "Interviews & Inspo" by Kiera Carter, originally published May 23, 2022

The centuries-old practice of Muay Thai is a lot of things. It’s violent. It’s beautiful. It’s steeped in tradition.


Tyler Scott knows this because he’s been practicing for over ten years. But he also knew that boutique fitness was becoming a force. “The first time I went to SoulCycle with my wife and Hit House co-founder, Dana, I was blown away by the atmosphere,” he says. That’s when they thought, we could do this with Muay Thai.


Of course, Muay Thai is a different beast, one that demands another level of respect.


“We wanted to introduce the sport to a broader audience, while staying true to the basic practices,” he says. 'It's not easy to walk into a Muay Thai gym and say, ‘I want to take my first class.’ Muay Thai is a tough, violent sport, but it's not a violent community. Muay Thai practitioners are some of the most interesting, diverse, uplifting and sociable people.” he says.


But still, that first step can feel huge when you can’t find information about a gym online—even basic stuff like pricing plans and class schedules—which can be a big deterrent for beginners trying to learn more about a gym before entering a potentially intimidating environment.


Scott founded Hit House in New York City’s NoLita to make that first step—trying Muay Thai—easier, and he used Wix Fit to build a fitness website that clearly features their class offerings and creates a welcoming vibe similar to that of their studio. “Muay Thai is a violent sport, but beginners can walk in the door and know there’s nothing to be afraid of,” he says.


Here, as part of our Wix Fit Spotlight series, Scott explains how they built a fitness business that serves fighters of all levels.


When did you first have the idea for Hit House?


Tyler Scott: It started with a spreadsheet and the bag we utility patented: Bishop. It was about developing a new tool that would allow beginners to throw punches, kicks, knees and elbows. For beginners, it’s difficult to have a bag swinging from side to side. They’re trying to develop their own body mechanics—proper stance, balance, feet pivoting, hip rotation, upper body extension—and they’re usually doing it on an object that is working against them.


Bishop helps because it’s attached at the ceiling and floor with a flexible pole. So, when it's struck, it has a little bit of give but then immediately returns back to its starting position. No swaying or momentum from the bag to contend with. It allows the user to maximize time and repetition. I'm a firm believer in practice and repetition in order to see improvement.


How did you make the bag a reality?


Tyler Scott: After putting together some sketches and a breakdown of the bag, I contacted Century Martial Arts in Oklahoma City and told them about the idea. They said ‘interesting idea,’ and we went to work with their head of research and development, Kurt Hafeken. After the first prototype was produced, we went out to Oklahoma City and tested Bishop for the first time.


During installation at Hit House, we made functional changes to the prototype and continued to develop and improve it. Currently, the bag is featured in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa at two Hit House licensed studios, and we're pursuing sales with large fitness facilities.


Tell us more about the Hit House studio.


Tyler Scott: The classes are designed not only to help people reach their fitness goals, but also to help them learn a skillset, which is empowering. We focus on correct form in class, both in the striking and functional strength-training portions of class. People can book private sessions with any of our trainers for a more detailed training experience. We also make it easy to sign up for a class with a friend to help anyone who may be shy. Wix Bookings makes it very simple for guests to sign up for sessions, removing barriers to entry.


"We always encourage our patrons to check out traditional Muay Thai gyms, and some of them have."


Who do you consider your competition?


Tyler Scott: I hope we're not competing with traditional Muay Thai gyms. We're looking to compete with other options for fitness like cycling, rowing, Pilates and other non-traditional boxing studios. We’re mindful about the words we use. We’re not a school or an academy. I'm not a former professional fighter with decades of experience coaching, like most schools and academies have. Our class format and equipment can only take you so far in learning the sport. Don't get me wrong, we show you the proper fundamentals of striking and the workout itself is challenging. But there's just so much more to learn outside of hitting a bag. We always encourage our patrons to check out traditional Muay Thai gyms, and some of them have.


How do your trainers embody your brand’s ethos?


Tyler Scott: All of our instructors come from the Muay Thai community. They've trained in various traditional gyms and almost all have competed on some level. The ones who haven't at least know what it's like to get hit in proper sparring with a training partner. We're not looking for social media "stars" who will learn Muay Thai, we want people who are already passionate about the sport. We'd like our presence and influence to grow organically from there. Our goal is to raise the sport as a whole.


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