ST. GEORGE — When counting to 10 just doesn’t work to relieve anger, it might be time to try a rage room.
One of St. George’s newest businesses, Smash Labs Rage Rooms provides locals with the opportunity to shatter their way through anger or just have fun destroying something. Participants can throw a glass vase against the wall of one of three rage rooms, take a crowbar to an old computer or bring in a framed photo of an ex.
Business owner Branin Boyack said the idea for his version of a rage room was born out of personal stress and the enjoyment of smashing things.
“This was an idea I had been kicking around trying to become a little more successful,” Boyack said. “One day I decided to start the paperwork.”
A year in the making, Smash Labs opened about two weeks ago and has so far been on a steady path of growth.
“We offer everything from plates to glasses, to printers and TVs and computers,” Boyack said. “We use things that come apart when you smash them. It is very satisfying for people because it’s not something you would normally do outside of Smash Labs.”
The first rage room opened in Japan in 2008. Since then, similar businesses have spread across the globe to counties from Serbia, Russia, Argentina and Singapour, as well as in cities across the United States.
Along with the catharsis of destroying things in one of three rage rooms, Boyack offers the chance for people to hone their mountain man skills in several axe throwing cages.
“The axe throwing was a natural fit,” Boyack said. “It’s really gaining in popularity. It really maximizes the experience of coming here.”
Studies show that men and women handle stress in different ways. According to the American Psychological Association, men are more likely to engage in physical activity to relieve stress while women are more likely to engage in interpersonal relationships as a way to decompress. However, rage room operators across the nation say 95% of those using their services are women.
Boyack said so far it has been a mix of genders and ages in St. George.
“With the college being as close as it is we’re getting a wide range of students between 18 to 25,” Boyack added. “But, we’ve also had some older people as well.”
Smash Lab’s demographics are not only limited to someone’s age.
“Last week we had three women come in with different levels of vision impairment,” Boyack said. “They all were checking axe throwing off their bucket list. That was pretty neat to see.”
The mental health benefits of rage rooms are up for debate.
Patrick Gonzales, CEO for the Carbon County Counseling Center in Rawlins, Wyoming, realizes that while venting anger and frustration in a rage room isn’t for everyone dealing with mental stress, it can offer a positive and safe environment for others.
“The general thought process in the clinical realm is to always look at ways people release anger and anxieties,” Gonzales said. “There is always a need for some type of outlet.”
While some people choose to express anger verbally, many others internalize their frustrations.
“Sometimes it’s good to have an outlet like a rage room,” Gonzales said. “It sure the heck beats the alternative of taking things out on loved ones.”
Although there is not much statistical data on the psychological effects of rage rooms, Smash Labs has already attracted several mental health therapists who have brought in clients.
“They are bringing them in for stress relief, help with anger management, grief counseling, all kinds of different things,” Boyack said. “It’s extremely fun, and maybe that’s part of where part of the therapeutic aspect comes from. It helps people blow off steam and gets the serotonin going.”
Gonzales agrees, but said that using this form of therapy is dependent on a client’s needs. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy.
“Sometimes you want to be destructive when you are really upset and it can be a very good outlet for some to release their pent-up frustrations and emotions,” he said. “We all have experienced times in our lives when you get to a breaking point. I can see the psychological value along with the fun of smashing things up.”
Two weeks after opening his doors, Boyack is satisfied where he is right now, but his plan for the future is to franchise his business model.
“As the company grows and we set our model in stone I plan to take my business across the county,” he said.
Part of the business model is the acquisition and disposal of smashables.
“We get a lot of stuff from thrift stores around town,” Boyack said. “We do a lot of yard sales and Deseret Industries shopping.”
Although sometimes it’s hard finding things to smash, people typically want to get rid of big tube television sets since few people want them.
After items are smashed to smithereens, Smash Labs recycles all available components.
“Anything we can recycle we do,” Boyack said. “St. George isn’t huge on recycling, so some of our stuff we ship down to Las Vegas. We try to do the best we can with that.”
Smash Labs is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and is closed Sunday. It is located at 175 W. 900 South, Suite 12 in the Holiday Square.
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