Known as “the guy in the mask” by many California Baptist University students, junior nursing major Elbee Castro is typically found working out in the campus Recreation Center wearing a peculiar device resembling a gas mask.
The device he wears is called a Training Mask and is used by elite athletes and exercise enthusiasts to help boost their athletic performance and increase their stamina and endurance. Training Mask is designed for athletes to train at a higher elevation without leaving sea-level altitudes.
“The first time I tried (the mask), it felt like it was heavier to breathe,” Castro said. “After you get really into it, it feels like you’re suffocating, but really your lungs are just trying to build up and develop more capacity to hold more oxygen.”
Casey Danford, CEO and creator of Training Mask, said several professional athletes use the mask to train, but Training Mask can also be used to improve breathing, in general,x for the average daily walker.
Athletes wear the mask in order to restrict airflow. This allows the body to learn to use oxygen more efficiently, and it increases lung capacity because it forces the user to inhale deeper and fuller breaths.
“Every time I use (the mask), it gives me a new challenge,” Castro said. “It feels like I’m working out for the first time all over again. After you take it off, you feel your whole entire lungs fill up with air, because you are getting your whole entire airflow instead of restricting it.”
Danford said athletes should not be alarmed by the appearance of the mask, but trust that it has been scientifically proven to increase athletic performances without supplements.
“We are giving (our customers) something to change their life — it’s nothing to be scared of,” Danford explained.
Joshua Zubia, senior business administration major, saw Castro wearing the mask at CBU’s Recreation Center and had a different perspective for Castro’s mask.
“(His mask) reminded me of Bane from Batman,” he said.
Training Mask has been scientifically studied by Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has been clinically tested. Danford said Training Mask is currently undergoing studies to prove its benefits for athletic training.