Rage rooms, or smash rooms, have found their way to Orlando as a way to blow off some steam while having fun. The new Anger Management Rage Room Orlando planned to open on April 11, after starting to set up in February, but were forced to delay their opening until May 9 due to the pandemic.
Orlando franchise owner Imari Melton, who has background in marriage and family therapy, opened the business because she believes physical de-stressing with a little destruction is essential, but that it must be done in a safe environment. She said she wanted to open a business that would help people safely cope with anxiety, anger and frustration.Recognizing that many people have lost their jobs and currently face added frustrations, Melton hopes the rage rooms will provide an outlet.
"There's a huge adjustment in [peoples'] life going on right now, which can cause a lot of stress," Melton said. "My hope is to let people come in to really a deep breath and enjoy themselves and .... give them that sense of relief."
"People naturally spread apart because they're throwing glass and breaking things," Melton said.
Right now, Anger Management has one rage room and one paintball room open. Rage room experiences vary from visitors bringing their own breakables, to a bottle room, to a "Tenacious Annihilation," which includes ceramics, a television, among other items.
Although customers may come in with their own box of breakables, the venue also provides customers with plenty of their own objects to smash. Melton specified that only one couple brought their own plates to break, and that most people prefer that the venue provide all the breakables.
All items are collected through donations from thrifts shops, local friends and restaurants, among others. Once items are destroyed, they are disposed of in a dumpster behind the building.
While a session is occurring, only those in the session and the employees are allowed in the building, in order to reduce traffic inside. Once a session is over, employees will clean up all broken items and sanitize all equipment with disinfectant. Safety equipment includes a hard hat, face shield, jumpsuit and heavy gloves. Customers are asked to wear pants and closed-toed shoes.
No one has hurt themselves so far, but Melton also emphasized that there are numerous rules to ensure everyone's safety. All ragers must throw in the same direction and only one rager can break items at a time. Melton also clarified that the rage room has a camera and she closely monitors the session from another room.
"If anything is seemingly concerning to me while watching them rage, then I will go in and kind of them a warning ... and if it happens again ... we'll have to end the session, but that hasn't happened," Melton said.
In addition to physical breakable items, Anger Management also offers target paintball, in which participants can shoot a target with up to 500 rounds. Melton stated that they are currently trying to add more features to the paintball room like moving targets.
For the "kid ragers" ranging from ages 5 to 10, Anger Managment offers a virtual reality (VR) oculus options, which allows kids to de-stress while not being in contact with any breakables. The VR room is set to open May 18.
Customers can even celebrate their birthday raging with their friends with packages ranging from Birthday for Two, Birthday Bash and Birthday Extravaganza. For these parties, ragers are encouraged to break all objects provided, and cake, balloons and drinks are provided (not for smashing). Birthday bookings are currently limited to a maximum of three individuals or household members.
When Florida returns to more normal times, Melton hopes to expand the franchise to incorporate a more therapeutic approach. She plans to incorporate a survey that customer will fill out after a rage session specifying how Anger Management helped them de-stress. She recognized that the rage rooms are not an "end all, be all solution," but is simply a coping method. She hopes to be able to provide her customers with the resources to manage their anger and be able to reach out to a therapist or counselor if needed.
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