by Anu Teodorescu
Since originating in Japan in 2008, rage rooms have become a global phenomenon, increasing in popularity in the United States thanks to the supposed stress-relieving benefits that come with blowing off steam by laying waste to items in a controlled environment. Despite their proliferation, it wasn’t until June 6 that West Michigan gained its very own. Just six months after the idea took root in owner Dawn Levian’s head, Break Room Therapy opened its doors in Byron Center.
Described by customers as DIY therapy, Break Room Therapy is an aggregate of self-care and entertainment, offering 30-minute sessions in which customers can demolish anything from TVs and computers to ceramics and glasses.
“It started because we were looking for an outlet,” Levian said. “I had messaged on a women’s group that I’m on […] and somebody suggested the rage room down in Detroit. We looked into it and then looked into all the other ones that are in the United States and I couldn’t let the idea go.”
After visiting the websites of other rage rooms, watching videos online, and reading different articles, Levian and her husband felt confident enough to open up their own rage room and join the growing trend of recreational destruction businesses.
“We kind of said, OK, this is what worked for them. Here’s what they did, here’s what we want to do. We created our own little mash-up of what we saw.”
Break Room Therapy provides the tools―like sledgehammers, crowbars, or baseball bats―as well as the breakables for your very own smashing session. While most of their inventory is sourced from places like Junk King, Craig’s List, and other online communities, they also offer a “Bring Your Own Breakables” package that allows you to bring in your own items.
Protective gear ranging from face shields and full-length lab coats to goggles and toe protection are available to customers should they choose to use it, but closed-toe shoes are a must. Minors ages 13-18 who are accompanied by a parent or guardian are also allowed inside.
Despite the controversy surrounding rage rooms and concerns that such violent behavior in one setting may transfer to everyday interaction, Levian has no qualms.
“Just like with everything there’s research that goes both ways,” she said. “It’s frustrating to me the research that says that these kinds of things would encourage people to do [this] out in regular, everyday society, because I don’t think that gives credit to people’s ability to understand that by doing it here, they’re not going to jail.”
“This isn’t going to fix people’s problems, but it will give them an outlet to release whatever it is they’re holding onto,” she said.
Places like Break Room Therapy are not just a form of self-care―they’re a source of entertainment, too.
“We had two ladies who came all the way from Indiana. Neither one of them was dealing with anything,” Levian said. “They just thought it would be fun to break stuff.”
Groups like bachelorette parties, corporate retreats, birthday parties and divorce parties are lining up for their chance to take a swing; Levian even envisions roulette-style gender reveal parties where parents have to smash different jars before they find out the sex of their baby.
In the coming months, Break Room Therapy will partner with organizations like School Supply Santa and Toys for Tots in an effort to stay involved in the community.
For more information, visit breakroomtherapy.com.