Do you ever want to just smash something?
Laquawn Lynch, who goes by Q Vessel, and his business partner Matthew Newcolbe opened Raze Up Smash Therapy Rooms on Nov. 12 in Mott Haven to give Bronxites a chance to get their frustrations out in a controlled environment.
“This is what it looks like inside the Raze Room — or what it used to look like,” Lynch joked, pointing to a live video in the lobby showing someone dressed in a white protective suit and orange helmet holding a metal tool over their head before smashing objects into pieces atop a pile of tires.
Crowbars, golf clubs, mallets and pipes are among weapons available to smash glass bottles, electronics, furniture and other objects. “If you can think about it, we can break it,” Lynch said.
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Before anyone enters the two soundproof smashing rooms, they must watch a safety video and fill out a waiver. The plywood walls are covered in graffiti-style art, and clients control the music. The rooms even have a “nice uplifting smell,” Lynch said.
“Why break down when you can break things?” he said. “Come on man, you know what I mean? Remember to let it out. Don’t hold it in; let it out. Let it flow.”
The company calls smash therapy a new therapeutic wave on its Instagram page, and Lynch said it’s both a form of therapy and recreational activity that draws people “from all walks of life.”
He has noticed, in particular, many teachers utilizing the smash rooms.
“It’s very therapeutic for them to have an outlet to let some aggression out in a healthy controlled manner,” he said.
The business partners experienced a similar concept in Brooklyn before deciding to open their own in Mott Haven, which Lynch called an up-and-coming neighborhood. The men thought the smash rooms could make an impact in the northernmost borough, which typically gets resources last.
This business model isn’t new and began in 2008 in Texas. “Rage rooms” or “anger rooms” can be found in other states and countries, some offering customizable office settings or mannequins of politicians.
A Northeastern Applied Psychology professor said the rooms can be helpful for healthy people to release stress, but are not a form of therapy.
“Rage rooms are for people who want to let loose while doing something fun and different, not for those who are dealing with mental health problems associated with anger and violence,” Christie Rizzo told Northeastern University’s News@Northeastern news site. “The last thing people with anger issues need is another outlet to express their frustration.”
But Lynch and Newcolbe want to embrace what they see as a therapeutic aspect of the concept.
While Lynch and Newcolbe don’t have a background in mental health, they want to incorporate someone who does, with plans to bring in an on-site therapist and hold focus groups for anger management and victims of domestic abuse. Lynch, who is from the Bronx, runs a catering company and helped start a senior center. Newcolbe works in the tech industry. Both men live in Manhattan.
Raze Up would offer a “total wellness package,” that includes both time to smash and speak with someone, Lynch said. They are looking to see whether insurance could cover fees for both services.
“There’s studies on smash therapy,” Lynch said. “We’re not saying we’re therapists and we’re not saying we’re going to heal you, but this is an alternative method just like art therapy.”
The business is collecting data on how people feel before and after their smashing sessions, but Lynch declined to share patterns they’ve gleaned so far.
Montefiore could not provide an expert to comment by press time and Community Healthcare Network did not respond to a request for comment.
-Jewel Webber contributed to this report
Reach Aliya Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.