New Species Crossfit Case Study | Royal Oak, Michigan

New Species CrossFit is a CrossFit affiliate gym in Royal Oak, Michigan. After the COVID-related shutdowns in the spring of 2020, owner Josh Hunnicutt knew he needed a strategy to protect and reassure skittish patrons when gyms reopened. A powerful portable air filtration system from RoboVent enables him to keep his gym open safely and reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

The Problem
Before the pandemic hit, more than 200+ gym members visited New Species weekly to participate in the intense, grueling workouts that are part of the CrossFit brand and experience. During these workouts, participants sweat hard—and breathe hard. Due to concerns about the risk of spreading the coronavirus in indoor environments with lots of people breathing heavily, gyms in Michigan were among the first businesses to be shut down and among the last to be allowed to reopen legally.

When Josh reopened his doors in the summer of 2020, gym attendance was down by more than 30%. He knew he needed systems in place to reduce the spread of airborne respiratory droplets that have been implicated in the transmission of COVID-19. He also needed to visibly reassure his clients that he was taking their health seriously and lure them back to the gym. “It is critical to us that we keep our members safe,” he explains. “Our athletes also need to see us doing things so they feel safe.”

The RoboVent Solution
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both released research about airborne transmission of the coronavirus and the important role of ventilation in reducing the spread of the virus in indoor environments. During warmer weather, scientists recommend keeping doors and windows open where possible. But with winter closing in, Josh needed a better solution. He worked with RoboVent to install 3 RoboVent PRC Series portable air purifiers in the gym. Each unit turns over air at a rate of 1200 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and has a powerful sub-micron filtration system that captures viruses, bacteria and mold spores along with dust and pollen. Together, the units turn the air over in the 12,000 ft2 facility every three minutes and twenty seconds. The two-stage filtration system uses a carbon pre-filter and a HEPA E11 filter (comparable to N95 mask media).


When equipped with a HEPA Filter, the PRC from RoboVent will remove 99.97% of particles larger than .3 microns. ASHRAE Standard 62.1 “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality” recommends meeting or exceeding the air change rates with a MERV13 filter. The PRC comes standard with a MERV15 filter to help enhance your existing ventilation system with better air filtration and can be upgraded to HEPA level filtration for additional peace of mind.

The Result
Along with other common-sense distancing and sanitizing measures, the new air cleaning system enables gym members to feel safe when working out in a shared indoor space, even without masks. The rapid air turnover and powerful filtration mean that members are not breathing in stale air and respiratory droplets remaining from previous classes, reducing transmission risks. Josh says the difference in air quality has been noticeable, especially now that doors are closed for the season. “We are in an old warehouse, and normally it is constantly dusty in here. The PRCs have made a huge difference in how the air feels and even how it smells. Even with the doors closed, it smells like an Apple store in here!” New Species was able to take a tax write-off for the units as part of their safe reopening plan.

More importantly, the PRCs have put people at ease for their return to the gym. While New Species is still down about 10% from pre-COVID membership levels, Josh says that they are gaining ground rapidly. “It has absolutely made a difference for us in sales and membership. This is an amenity that people see and that everyone gets value from. People really appreciate knowing that we are taking the extra step to take care of them.”


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