An interview with co-founders Tyler Scott & Dana VanPamelen by Luxury Attache's Sascha Torres and Diana Garcia for 'the Wellness Issue'
Hit House is a Muay Thai kickboxing, boutique fitness studio located in the heart of Soho on the corner of Spring & Bowery. During this high energy workout, you'll learn to improve your punches, kicks, knees and elbows on your own Bishop heavy bag. Muay Thai is a full body workout that pushes you to improve your cardio, muscle tone and fighting skills in just under an hour.
Hit House delivers Muay Thai kickboxing for all levels in a group class setting with luxurious studio amenities, encouraging self-confidence over self-importance. Ambition over arrogance. Welcoming swagger and individualism, you'll leave Hithouse a lover and a fighter.
How do you manage a healthy work life / personal life relationship? We have divided many aspects of running a fitness studio together and manage different parts of the business based on our strengths and passions. We also make sure that we have time to train and sweat separately, so we can remember and appreciate the sport that sparked this business in the first place! Our slogan is "be a lover AND a fighter," and I think this is very fitting for our relationship: lovers and fighters.
What inspired you to launch Hit House together? Were you both into fitness before starting Hit House?
Tyler and I come from different fitness backgrounds. Tyler has trained at traditional fight gyms for almost 15 years and has fought in Muay Thai five times. I'm a workout class fanatic, always trying different studios and new classes. After taking Tyler to his first Soul Cycle class back in the summer of 2015, we started wondering if it would be possible to deliver the incredible full-body Muay Thai workout in the same sort of fun, upbeat, amenity-rich setting. Tyler began designing and engineering what is now Bishop: our patented, hybrid heavy-bag that allows people of all levels, from total beginner to professional fighter, to train without injury, bruises and swing back. We both agreed that we wanted to create a very welcoming atmosphere and a class where you learned a skill. Hit House is not a traditional Muay Thai gym and no membership is required. It was important to us that people can drop in for class whenever convenient for them. We also believe that you don't have to be a fighter to train like one. All of our instructors have years of traditional Muay Thai training and in-ring experience. A huge focus of class is making sure that people are learning proper form and technique while getting a great sweat.
Tyler and Dana in Oklahoma City at Century Martial Arts, designing Bishop
What are your top recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Finding a workout that you enjoy is the most important! It will be a lot more difficult to create a healthy routine if you are not looking forward to the activity (and probably find a dozen excuses). We just happen to love punching and kicking! Workout buddies are the best buddies, since they keep you accountable, motivated and push you harder. Also, super basic and simple, but: Sleep Well. Stay Hydrated. Wash your hands.
We saw that you’ve expanded to Capetown. What prompted that expansion and your selection for that city in particular? We were fortunate to be connected in NYC with fabulous fitness partners that are familiar with the fitness landscape in South Africa. They run several successful fitness studios in Cape Town and Johannesburg. A casual brainstorm session of "What If..?" turned into two soon-to-be-open beautiful studios in South Africa. We are so excited and can't wait to visit. Check them out here.
What are some of your favorite fitness trends & techniques? I love the increase in female fighters! Over the past few years, we have seen more and more females get involved in traditionally male dominated martial arts. Muay Thai and other MMA can seem intimidating, but the increase in awareness thanks to fight-based fitness is incredible. Martial arts should be accessible to all! We often get asked about the best self-defense techniques (and the answer is always: First, Run). One of my favorites strikes, and another reason that Muay Thai is unique, is the elbow! When delivered correctly, your opponent is stunned and there's a lower risk of injury to yourself. Throwing elbows is really satisfying!
Female professional Muay Thai and MMA fighter and former Olympic boxer, Jennifer Chieng, pictured is a founding instructor at Hit House
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your business and how you approach fitness as well as overall wellness? Owning a small business during COVID-19 in New York City has been extremely challenging. We had to quickly pivot as fitness facilities were mandatory shut down on March 16, 2020. Since the Hit House class focuses mainly on a bag, our instructors designed multiple equipment-free class formats that focus on strengthening the muscles we typically use in Muay Thai, guided shadowboxing and cardio conditioning. We chose to use Zoom because we wanted our instructors to still be able to work on form and technique with class members. Exercise is so important to mental health and even more so in a time when people may feel isolated, unsure and scared. Channeling these emotions into a positive outlet and letting aggression and anxiety out in a healthy way kept us sane during the pandemic. Safety and cleanliness in the studio has always been very important to us. For instance, we clean the studio floor and bags in between every class, every time, no exception. We wear bag gloves that are machine-washed with anti-bacterial, anti-viral (and anti-odor) bleach-alternative every use. One of the funny outcomes of both Tyler and I being tall is that we insisted each heavy bag be 7 feet apart so we would have more room to kick! We will work to be more transparent with our daily procedures, so class members feel totally assured.