As the red sun hung in the smoke-filled air outside, as the exhaust from the Camp Fire swept over the Bay Area, I was inside, looking at my phone, like everyone else. I was dying to go running, but the air quality index numbers, and my own eyes and lungs, told me that I shouldn’t. So I was scrolling Instagram when it served me an ad for Vent Performance Filtration Breathing Trainer, from the company Training Mask—tagline: “Breathe Free, Breathe Strong.”
The mask looks like a cross between an S&M accessory and military kit, technical meets Mortal Kombat. The ad for it explicitly linked the wildfires with working out; It could save my lungs from the global warming-induced, record-setting California fire season—and in “performance filtration mode,” it could train my respiratory muscles at the same time. It’s personal environmental gear with a fitspo bonus, the perfect gadget for the climate hellscape.
A screenshot from the Facebook version of the Training Mask California fire advertisement (Facebook)
Because scientists and insurance companies agree: The fires have been historically bad, but it’s gonna get worse.