Pandemic fever got you down? Smash up stuff at the rage room

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Piper Mape, 17, right, watches as her sister, Berkley, 15, kicks a wooden board in a rage room during a session to help relieve stress at Smash RX LLC in Westlake Village, Calif., Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP) – After nearly a year of being trapped in pandemic isolation, some people just want to pick up a sledgehammer and smash something to smithereens.

“That felt good,” sweating insurance executive Josh Elohim said after reducing a computer printer and other stuff to piles of rubble. It reminded him of the workout he used to get chopping wood when he lived in Upstate New York.

Since last winter, Elohim and his wife, Michelle, have been isolated at home with four kids ranging in age from 4 to 17. They needed an outlet, and so they headed to the office of marriage and family therapist Yashica Budde, who outfitted them with protective gloves, full body suits and face coverings that resemble fencing masks.

Then she let them pick their “destructive devices” and turned them loose in one of two “rage rooms” plastered with inspirational signs proclaiming “Why Stress When You Can Smash” and “Never Give Up.”

“We are believers, so we use God, obviously, as our main foundation,” Elohim said afterward. “But,” he added with a hearty laugh, “I’m not opposed to breaking some stuff to relieve some tension.”

Before the coronavirus, rage rooms where patrons pay to obliterate objects were a lark, a place to go with friends or to let off steam after a breakup. But Budde, a licensed therapist for 13 years, sees her rooms as valuable therapy during the pandemic.

“As a therapist, I know I have referred a lot of people for alternative therapy like yoga, misting therapy, meditation, all of those things, and I thought it would be amazing to see a rage room,” she said.

She hopes the concept will eventually be embraced by the therapy community at large, adding that some fellow therapists have already referred patients to her rooms, called Smash RX, and she's referred some herself. What began in late 2019 as just a stress reliever for life’s daily problems really blossomed after practically everything started shutting down last March.