Jan. 9, 2023•
5 min read
I have an anger problem. Well, the problem being I have a hard time finding my anger. Decades of people-pleasing can do that to you. The pandemic gave me more free time than I wanted and enough time to sit in my emotions and think about how different I wanted to be on the other side. COVID-19 is not quite eradicated yet, but I got a lot out of my journey through self-help, energy healers, life coaches, therapists—it takes a village to be healthy, apparently.
The sticky parts that are left unhealed involve my lost anger.
I started hearing about “rage rooms” (or break rooms, smash rooms, etc.) online and on social media and was intrigued. I pictured red-faced men, veins in their sweaty faces bulging as they screamed and smashed trinkets in a warehouse with Pantera blasting. Could I even do that? I mean, there is a lot to be angry about in the world, and what I recently dug up from my childhood during my pandemic reflecting. I see plenty of other people full of anger on any highway, and these places exist for a reason, right?
I wondered what kind of person owns and operates a smash room. Are they full of anger? An adrenaline junkie? Finding the “story” section of Smash Zone’s website was not at all what I was expecting. A photo of a beautiful, smiling teenage girl reads, “Glenda Granados’ daughter, Victoria Lopez, died from complications of cancer in March 2010 when she was 17 years old. Granados opened Smash Zone to help others release whatever they’re going through.” The website uses words like “compassion,” “understanding,” and “transformation.” I booked a session and an interview with Glenda to learn more.
After working 25 years in the advertising industry, Glenda Granados retired—and as stated on the website, experienced tragedy when she lost her daughter to cancer. She wanted to open a business but didn’t know what kind. She had an unexpected jolt of inspiration while watching the Super Bowl—Palmolive ran a 30-second feature on Smash Therapy in Dallas. She said, “I could relate to the commercial instantly. That’s what I’m going to open!”
She was so convinced this was the right thing, she immediately went to work. According to Glenda, “I never visited [Smash Therapy]. I got what they were trying to do and put my own version of it together. Within six weeks opened Smash Zone; it went very fast. Say you want to buy a house and it doesn’t seem right, and you’re pushing, and you have all these obstacles coming up? I had no obstacles. Everything just went perfectly. It was divine inspiration. I always say this isn’t my business, it’s God’s business; I’m just the channel.”
Her own version of a smash room includes some unique aspects. For one, sessions end in meditation. I asked Glenda where she got the idea: “The main reason why, is when my daughter was sick and was going through cancer and was in a lot of pain, her and I did meditation together. I knew it was such a special place to go to when you’re in the midst of adversity and crisis and trauma. Because your adrenaline and your whole body changes when you’re experiencing that. So, I knew if I could do it with her, I could do it with the community. When you get your adrenaline going, you need to calm down. The experiences I do, like the Pyramid of Empowerment and the meditation, brings people back down to a place of peace before they leave. Some people don’t want to do it, and they leave all charged up. But that’s their choice, and that’s okay. It’s different for everybody.”
Glenda shared, “The Pyramid of Empowerment is an experience of letting go and moving forward. I explain, ‘Visualize something that’s been bothering you, maybe it was yesterday or today. Whatever it is, visualize it, and right before you throw something at this pyramid of breakables, you say it out loud. That way, when it smashes, it’s an experience that makes it tangible. It makes you feel like you’ve moved on, you’ve moved forward, you’ve smashed it out.’ That’s why the Pyramid of Empowerment is a special thing for us.”
The Smash Zone is in a basement and feels like one, but it’s a fitting environment. When I asked about Glenda’s first smash she said, “My first smash personally, was in my basement. My ex left his guitar, so that had to go. It was a fun experience. My first experience here was having frustration during the day that really got to me. I just came in here and threw stuff.”
There are a few rooms built out and windows you can watch your friends through from a safe distance. They keep a collection of protective gear to put on before a session. In the room, you have a choice of weapon—baseball bats, hammers, and crowbars. The staff let you choose your playlist to set the mood. Packages include experiences like the Pyramid of Empowerment and the number of items to smash. The most striking thing about the space is the colorful writing on the walls (literally and figuratively). From “F*CK CANCER!” to “YOU SUCK!” and more uplifting messages like “just breathe” and “I AM ENOUGH.”
When asked about that, Glenda shared, “The writing on the walls was another thing that came to me. I wanted to be able to offer the community something different they can feel, like they can express themselves and feel safe doing it. When they’re all done smashing, whatever it is they either came here with or that surfaced while they’re in there, I have them leave it on the wall. That way they can go through the experience of ‘I left it there, I don’t need to take it with me and now I can move forward.’ It's all about moving forward.”
She has a clear mission for Smash Zone: “It’s a safe place for the community to come to. To release anything from daily stress to more complicated things like divorce, traumatic things like loss of a loved one, or even losing somebody to murder; something really tough that we all experience here in Milwaukee. It’s a healing place for the community. I want people to feel safe so that they can come here and release their stress and do it in a fashion that’s constructive because if we hold on to that, it’s going to come out and it’s not going to be pretty. We need to make sure we’re expressing it in the proper channels and Smash Zone is that channel. And they leave it here. We’ve got big shoulders; we can handle it.”
Glenda wants to see the space as a community resource. She explained, “I really want people to walk away know this is their safe haven. They finally found a place where they can just let it all go in a way they’ve never been able to express without the worry of having to clean it up or be in trouble.
She gets a lot of hugs and tears in the experience, along with connection. She gets her own healing in the process. She added, “It keeps me empowered, it keeps me inspired, it keeps me going. I still have my bad days with the loss of my daughter. I feel her presence here. I feel a special bond here with people. It’s an amazing feeling that I never want to walk away from. That’s what I want people to feel. To be able to know her, through me, and have that legacy carry through.”
After our conversation, I gave it a try. I found some excitement tossing coffee mugs in the air and batting them into a wall into shards. I put some old electronics on a wooden stump and beat them with pieces flying. At first, I just laughed nervously and eventually got more into the experience. I had a soundtrack of Run the Jewels with a beat that made smashing plates onto a concrete wall feel like an event. I felt a rush of adrenaline and had a lot of fun. Afterward, Glenda guided me through a relaxing meditation in a quiet room full of angels and photos of her daughter. You could feel the love in the room and in the thoughtful mediation which included phrases like, “feel any obstacle in your way, leave your body and your path, and be smashed into nothing.”
While I didn’t feel particularly angry on this day, when I feel anger bubble up in the future, I know I have somewhere to go that’s welcoming and safe to let it out.
Schedule a Smash Zone experience for yourself here.
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