The moment you introduce fitness into your life it will change for the better. Fitness has an unsuspecting way of bringing us to places we never thought possible. For Fitmark Ambassador Duby Bello, fitness was the answer to making his boyhood dream come true and his ticket into the fire academy.
Fitmark Ambassador: Duby Bello
Lifestyle: Firefighter, Occupational Athlete, Fitness Competitor
Meal Bag: the Shield LG
Becoming a firefighter was something Duby dreamed of since he was a boy. He was determined to get into the fire academy, so he set about learning everything he could about the human body. From job-specific training to fueling his body, it was an education that changed his life forever. He told us:
Since I was young I wanted to be a fireman. I finally had the opportunity in 2010 and that’s what kind of accidentally got me into the fitness lifestyle. I needed to be in tremendous physical shape to be able to pass the physical with a time that would bring my overall score to an acceptable range. So I learned how to prepare my meals and I also needed to learn how to work out and take care of my body to bring it to an acceptable condition. I read many articles online and learned how the human body works.
We’re happy to tell you, he passed his CPAT. Which leaves us with the question: What does it take to get into the fire academy?
Strength, Mental Toughness, Timing
It takes strength, timing and skill to pass your firefighter’s physical ability test or CPAT. The test format varies slightly from region to region, but most commonly the physical component is a 10-minute test consisting of 8 different stages that mimic the real-life drill of rescuing someone from a burning building. The exercises involve dragging, carrying, hoisting, lifting, pulling, crawling, and climbing, so it’s these types of movements that Duby concentrated on in his training.
Also, in a real-life situation, the firefighter would be wearing about 45 pounds of gear (helmet, hood, pants, coat, gloves, boots, air pack) and an extra 30 pounds in equipment (thermal imaging camera, radio, box light, Halligan bar and axe). That’s a total of 75 pounds of extra weight. Wearing a weighted vest or weight bag during training is another trick that can prepare you for the real deal.
Let’s take a look at the test exercises and pair them up with recommended physical exercises you can work on in the gym. Check it out:
CPAT – Exercise Mashup
Stair Climb – Box Step with a weight bag or weighted vest of 30-45 lbs
Hose Drag – Barbell Squats, Battle Rope Exercises, Seated Cable Rows
Equipment Carry – Farmers Walks, Dead Lifts
Ladder Raise and Extension – Weighted Chin Ups, Shoulder Press
Forcible Entry – Chest Press, Sledgehammer Swings, Corner Rows
Search – Walking Dumbbell Lunges, Mountain Climbers
Rescue – Sled Pulls with 165+ pound weight
Ceiling Breach and Pull – Shoulder Press, Kettlebell Swings, Muscle Ups
It goes without saying that a firefighter needs to be in athletic shape when it comes to cardiovascular fitness. Shifts are long, grueling, and stressful, and often you’ll be working on little sleep. Your heart needs to be in tip top shape to handle the demands of the job like extreme temperatures, heavy gear and equipment, and breathing through a mask and air pack. So bulking up is not the path you want to go down. You need to be strong enough to carry 165 pounds over one shoulder but flexible enough to maneuver through any situation.
Most firefighters adopt a leaner look and turn to functional training exercises as a foundation to build on. For Duby it’s a look that works both on the job and on stage, with a few tweaks here or there. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between job-specific training and stage prep he has found is diet. He told us:
If I know I have an event that I’m looking forward to, I adjust my calories mainly through carbs to be able to look a certain way. But if I don’t have anything planned, I’m more flexible with my diet, which sometimes means pizza, cheeseburgers, and cookies! It took me a while to realize this, but having a cookie here and there is actually not as bad as you think. LOL! Everything in moderation!
Although his goal will always be staying in shape for the job, his passion for fitness has won him first place, twice! For an occupational athlete like Duby, nutrition and diet are essential to keeping him fueled, and that includes packing enough food and snacks for on the job. He told us:
My busy schedule doesn’t allow me to get too creative. I’ll have the same meal 5 times a day for about 6-7 weeks. I actually like cooking and eating the same meals due to convenience.
What helps out tremendously is my Fitmark meal bag. It keeps my meals organized and chilled till I’m ready to have my meal. Definitely beats having to walk around with a Walmart bag! I also love how compact the bag is, as well as the collapsible side zippers.
Training for his firefighter’s physical introduced Duby to a world of other fitness enthusiasts and won him a spot on the New Jersey Fire Department. Passing your CPAT takes a lot of hard work and a smart nutrition plan, but the important thing to remember Duby says:
Consistency is key. Give yourself time. Be realistic and have fun!
You can find Fitmark Ambassador Duby Bello on Instagram @duby_bello
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