Less than a year ago, Fitmark Ambassador Mario Ienni made a commitment to his fire department to change the way they think about health and wellness and staying fit on the job. He’s now the Health and Wellness Coordinator for his station and he’s having an effect on the entire department as a whole.
My goal is to change the culture of running on empty while out on a fire and going till you can’t go anymore. The old school way of firefighting isn’t sustainable in this day and age.
Mario implemented this health and wellness program less than a year ago and it has grown leaps and bounds. One of the instrumental parts of the program was outfitting the fire trucks with Fitmark meal prep bags to keep the firefighters fueled while out on a call. Mario told us:
Fitmark Bags have been very well received and used by the department. We have had several recent fires where the guys have used the replenishment products in those bags to rehydrate and fuel up before returning to work on that fire incident. So many times we never replenished what we expelled, and now with the replenishment bags from Fitmark, we take this on every fire. Gel carbohydrates and electrolyte tabs are now part of the rehab protocol on every incident.
Our Team at Station 61 love Fitmark Bags! Every day at 7 a.m. we check our equipment to be in a state of readiness for our 24-hour shift. The bags are now part of those morning checks. Each firefighter assigned to that fire engine is in charge of checking the inventory in each Fitmark Bag. Also the Fitmark Bags have come in handy as some firefighters store some of their own healthy bars and snacks for those long hot days when we are out in the field.
On top of nutrition, the firefighters have access to an on-site gym. The Station has a cool way of motivating their team to stay fit and it involves a WOD. Mario told us:
We very fortunate to have a functional gym adjacent to our Fire Station 61. We have all the weight equipment you find in a regular gym along with cardio equipment. We have over the past year started to incorporate more TRX style functional training that truly focuses on our job specifically. Kettlebells, bands, bodyweight-type movements and the Elevation Training Mask have been incorporated into daily workouts. We have a daily “WOD” posted on our intranet for the team to follow each day.
Firefighter Training vs. Competition Prep
Mario is also a fitness competitor and has been extremely busy this year prepping for a slew of shows with great success. His final show this month earned him his IFBB Pro card and he’s already getting attention from a few reputable brands. We asked him about his training and how it differs from his firefighter training. Here’s what he told us:
As far as stage prep, my workouts focus more on building muscle, symmetry and burning body fat. This includes low impact, steady state cardio where my heart rate is in the “fat burning” range, instead of the high intensity, functional cardio that is firefighter job specific.
Weight training involves working on one body part a day and really focusing on mind muscle connection, as well as the contraction of that specific muscle and getting as much blood into that muscle as you possibly can to stimulate growth.
In the job specific functional aspect of weight training you focus more on explosive movements of every body part, creating stability and cardiovascular endurance. So I would say there is a big difference between the two.
Energy Levels On The Job
Prepping for competition can take a lot out of you, especially in the cutting phase. So how do athletes do it – balance work and competition? How does a firefighter like Mario do it and still manage to perform at work? He told us:
This last cutting phase for me started on February 1st this past year in preparation for the Spectrum fitness productions 2016 NorCal on June 4th. My coach Ryan Bentson takes into account my diet that directly affects my job performance. We decided to do a longer cutting phase so I can keep the carbs and calories up, allowing me to have full energy for my work at the fire station.
Down To The Crunch
Leaving nothing to chance, Mario makes sure to take some time off work when he’s very close to competition. He told us:
Carb cycling allows me to keep focus and energy on my 48-hour shifts. As we got closer to my competition, the carbs do start to lower and I must admit, the energy at work starts to get low. During every prep I’ve done, I always take the last two weeks off of work as the carbs are super low and depletion phase begins. This allows me to focus on the competition and not worry about performing my job duties on little amounts of energy.
As an athlete, Mario takes his training very seriously and applies the same philosophy at work as he does at play. Diet and nutrition should never be treated lightly, but as fuel to feed the body’s needs. He told us:
The rebound diet is a very important aspect of the post-competition phase. Most people after a show will eat everything in sight like it was their last meal and end up doing a lot of harm to themselves. I usually do a cheat meal post show like pizza or burgers that night with a hearty breakfast the next morning. Rehydration is a key and starts directly after I get off stage during the finals. We deplete water a few days before the show, so you need to rehydrate and get your electrolyte balances back to normal.
Usually the Monday after a Saturday show, I’ll start my rebound diet. This means doing what I was doing before the show. Back to the protein, carbs – carb amounts and fat amounts your body was accustomed to. It’s also important to still do my cardio, but this is when I start to taper right down, adding more calories in and carb amounts in.
Old School Thinking
You could say post-competition binge is as old school thinking to an athlete as running on empty is to a firefighter. With Mario’s commitment to keeping his team in tip-top shape, he has ensured that there’s a system in place to keep them fueled and in good health on the job. Gone are the days of running on empty and just pushing through, despite the calorie deficit and strain on the body. Now he says:
We all aim for longevity in our careers. A firefighter’s career should last 30 years. What we do from day one to retirement will certainly affect that life span.
The Health and Wellness Program is in full swing at Fire Station 61 and Fitmark Bags are right there on every call. Mario told us:
I want to personally thank Fitmark for the continued support of my Health and Wellness Program at my fire department. Also the continued support for me as a competitive athlete. It always feels good when a company like Fitmark goes out of their way for customers, athletes and promoting a healthy lifestyle. I’m grateful to have Mark Samuel as the CEO who takes the time to care and reaches out every time he wants to see how things are running.
You can follow Fitmark Ambassador Mario Ienni on Instagram @Fireman_IFBBPRO
Sport Your Lifestyle
The Fitmark Team