Gym Rats Cross to The Dark Side

Text by Gretchen Kuhsel
Photography by Tyler Lavoie
Models: Peri Lapidus and Julian Baeza Hochmuth
Styling by
 Blythe Bruwer, Andrea Fernandez, Courtney Kaner, and Cherotich Chemweno


Seeing people like Eleanor Barnes, Visual and Media Arts ‘18,  confidently walk down Boylston Street in in a black bucket hat with the word “bitch” in a Barbie-esque font ironically printed on it and head-to-toe monochrome is no longer shocking.

“Eventually, hopefully, fashion and athletic wear will melt together into one solid thing,” says Barnes. “Athletic wear is so comfortable and breathable, so I see it coming together in one industry.”


Barnes is a subscriber to the Health Goth trend. Besides her uber-trendy wardrobe, Barnes keeps up with the intense wellness lifestyle of Health Goths. “I started getting into the style over the summer because I was keeping a really strict dietary and work-out schedule,” says Barnes.

Health Goth. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is in fact the second most googled fashion trend of 2014, according to A Year in Search Google report. “Normcore” was number one, but that’s probably because people had no idea where to even start with that trend.

Perhaps the most appropriate place to start is Google itself. The Health Goth craze started with simple image sharing on Tumblr and Facebook. A futuristic black Adidas sneaker floating in front of a white background. An impossibly sleek carbon bicycle in a lacquered black studio. The stream of these photos and others like it created an online, and then eventually real life community.

Those loyal to the Health Goth trend represent modern angst and rebellion. Think if Hot Topic were to get out of their awkward, still-has-baby-fat middle school years and started college. Health Goths are polished and fit, but they still live by the motto of “all black everything.” There is so much more to the movement than black cropped sports tops and leather joggers, though. The Health Goth lifestyle is broken down into three things: Fashion, Wellness, and Social Media.


Fashion: Health Goths are dedicated to labels like Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang, and Rick Owens. A resurgence of household brands like Adidas and Nike add to the sportswear chic aesthetic that Health Goths love. Mesh, moisture-wicking fabrics, transparent paneling, chains and light corporal adornment are all key components of Health Goth fashion.

Wang has especially made the trend accessible to the general public and been a huge influence on the trend. The designer, known for his futuristic fashion, put out monochrome, mesh-paneled trousers and cropped scuba tops with the simple “WANG” logo across the chest for a collaboration with H&M. Leather basketball shorts and suede button downs also made the cut.

For the everyday Health Goth, Barnes recommends outsourcing online retailers like Nasty Gal and Doll's Kill. H&M and Urban Outfitters are also on the Health Goth’s radar.

Wellness: Johnny Love, also known as DJ Deathface, is the self-proclaimed leader of the Health Goth subculture and has subsequently created “The Bible.” The text is a far cry from the Old and New Testaments, however. It’s titled “The #HealthGoth Fitness Bible” and it reads similar to cult guidelines. “Workout till you feel like death,” and “Do the full exercise,” are in bold red letters. The Chicago-based DJ and fitness enthusiast even breaks it down for Health Goths and Health Gothettes, if you will. For men: “Don’t skip leg day,” and for women, “Don’t be afraid to lift weights.” Health Goths have a very specific body: lean and muscular. This is not only due to their rigorous gym-rat-like tendencies, but also because they have the dietary habits of that kid in your class who was allergic to virtually everything.

On carbs, Love tells his followers, “Stop eating whatever you cannot make in your own kitchen, period.” He suggests replacing anything that you can’t cook with a green vegetable.

Health Goths start their day with vitamins and lots of them: calcium, acai, fish oil and fiber supplements, to name a few. Breakfast is usually composed of an apple for protein, a cup of blackberries for antioxidants, and half a banana for natural potassium intake. Small snacks throughout the day keep Health Goths ready for their next workout. Forget about potato chips and Cliff Bars, though. The typical diet consists of low-fat cottage cheese, rice cakes, peanut butter, and more fruit and veggies.


Social Media: In 2013, Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott, of electro-R&B duo Magic Fades, and video artist Chris Cantino founded the Facebook page “Health Goth” to curate a community with the images that inspire the lifestyle. Portland, Oregon was at the forefront of the cyberpunk movement, which is no surprise—hipsters and techies unite in the Northwest corner of the United States.

Health Goth is primarily driven by social media. Often times, it’s referred to as a hashtag: #HealthGoth or #HG. It was born on the Internet and continues to grow there. The trend is no longer limited to sites like Facebook and Tumblr like it was two years ago. Sites like Soundcloud and Spotify facilitate music sharing and creating, mainly for workout playlists. DJ Deathface endorses artists like Starkey, Mixhell, and Black Asteroid on his website.

All trends come to an end eventually. However, Health Goth seems to be defeating all trend odds, mainly because of its seamless transition into other lifestyle aspects. People like Barnes walk down the street all the time, and no one even looks twice. Health Goths aren’t outlandish or unpredictable anymore, so maybe the undead, gym-rat look is here to stay.