December 1, 2020

Denver business helps gyms rebound with chalk that kills coronavirus

DENVER — Colorful climbing walls and other gym equipment can be difficult to disinfect but that’s where a Colorado company is finding success with a new chalk that kills coronavirus.

Denver-based Friction Labs has been producing climbing chalk for about seven years, but this latest product was born out of necessity.

“So after the pandemic hit pretty much overnight we were down about 70%,” said Keah Kalantari, co-founder of Friction Labs.

When gyms were forced to close in March, sales dropped off and the owners were worried about the future of their business.

“We had the idea for making a hand sanitizer chalk, if that was even possible,” said Kevin Brown, co-owner and CEO.

Friction Labs rolled out a new liquid chalk product that that’s made up of 80% ethanol and although it’s not technically a hand sanitizer, it kills coronavirus. A team of CU Anchutz researchers tested the product and found it was just as good as or better than hand sanitizer.

“We started to put all of our effort behind it, and a lot of the products that we were selling aren’t selling very well, but this product is selling, and it’s helping people get back into the gyms and do the things that they love,” said Brown.

Although the chalk was initially made for rock climbing, users have found a wide variety of applications from tennis to gyms.

“So when the members use chalk and it’s something they apply multiple times in a workout, it’s one additional layer to keep things clean, keep things sanitary and provide peace of mind for them,” said Caleb Sommer, the owner of Project Rise Fitness.

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