Looking for a way to kick start his workouts during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fort Lauderdale Fire Department Captain, Mark Rossi, found BlastMask and jumped into using it right away. Captain Rossi is a 20-year veteran firefighter who invests a lot of time traveling and presenting classes through his program RockStar Training which helps prepare fire department candidates for both the initial oral interviews and promotional interviews. Bored with his home workout routine, Rossi reached out to two firefighter friends he considers true fire service athletes.
“A friend of mine, Nate Sturm in Apopka, Florida, and another friend Shannon Jimenez in Tift, Georgia, are both around my age. I am 48,” said Captain Rossi. “These guys are in phenomenal shape, so I asked them what they do to stay in such great shape. They said, ‘Rossi, you’ve got to get into functional fitness,’ and they told me about the BlastMask.”
That was over a year ago, and Captain Rossi says he uses BlastMask just about every day. “Some days are harder cardio, and I will wear the BlastMask with a weighted vest or ride in full gear and my mask. I try and mimic what we do at fires. Sometimes we are working hardcore for 10 or 15 minutes, and other times we are working we are off-air, so I try to incorporate at least a minimum of 20 minutes of BlastMask use every day.”
Rossi belongs to an over-40 group of firefighters from Florida and other states who post workouts on Facebook and Instagram to motivate and keep each other accountable. When he got his BlastMask he was excited to get started. “I called my friend Nate and said I’m excited, a little nervous, do not want to pass out after 15 minutes,” he said. Nate told Rossi to start slow and with an easy setting. BlastMask is designed not for resistance, but to simulate breathing SCBA air. An Easy Air Bypass Valve on the BlastMask allows the wearer to set an amount of resistance.
“Initially, I flipped my tire down the street, did some sandbag sit-ups, and rode the assault bike for a few rounds to acclimate myself to the mask. “This is cool, but definitely a challenge. It is going to kick my butt.”
From that point, Rossi went to work incorporating BlastMask into his functional workouts. Captain Rossi’s fire department offered a wellness class called O2X, to learn about VO2Max and how our muscles use oxygen. Rossi began to look at how he could do a better workout and improve his whole anaerobic state. “I started incorporating BlastMask into almost every functional workout. Some days will be strength training days, and I will get on my Echo Bike and do 10 rounds of a 20/40 interval. Then I will do some weightlifting, some kettlebells, and battle ropes. Other days will be strictly cardio, and I will get on the bike and do several rounds of interval training split by core exercises, with my mask on and a weighted vest and no gear.”
Rossi has also found BlastMask to be helpful to future fire department candidates. He directly asks them what cardio and what functional fitness, if any, are they doing. “Cardiac arrests and cancer are leading causes of firefighter deaths. How can we reverse that? If you are not doing something [cardio and functional fitness] at least six months prior to starting with a fire department for a firefighter job, you are behind the eight ball.” said Rossi.
Rossi talks to candidates about BlastMask and his workouts. He discussed what guys and gals his age are doing daily to hold themselves accountable for the citizens we serve. “We do it hoping that a young 25-, 26-year-old guy or gal will go ‘look at these guys at 48. I need to get my butt in gear if I am serious about a career in the fire service. Besides, never underestimate an old guy in gear’ is a famous saying many of us say all the time.”
He added, “I bring up the BlastMask and tell them what it is, and I tell them you do not need any gear. You can buy it directly from the BlastMask site. It gets you ready for day one, and it is a game-changer; plain and simple. There is nothing out there that I have found that can come close to comparison.” Several firefighters in Rossi’s fire department use BlastMask, “Everybody I’ve talked to has nothing but positive things to say about BlastMask.”
Captain Mark Rossi’s experience with BlastMask not only added life to his home gym workouts but increased the quality of those workouts with a focus on functional fitness, accountability, and the added value of helping physically prepare future firefighters to become the tactical athletes needed for the fire service.