Bodybuilding is increasingly becoming a way of engaging young people in conversations about Christianity.
In Australia, a 19 year old says he found his faith – and success - after tapping into the Generation Z Christian bodybuilder scene.
Hugo Byrnes from Alice Springs is the founder of a body-building clothing firm called ‘Sunday Mass’ which produces lift-wear emblazoned with Christian slogans.
Hugo told ABC News that he wasn’t raised in a Catholic household, but he found his faith after his friends started sharing body-building memes at school. The memes showed famous bodybuilders with quotes from the Bible :
"You start paying more attention to it because it's funny, it's cool pictures."
Some of the slogans he uses such as ‘The Last Supplement’ and ‘On the Seventh Day He Lifted’ have been criticised as being blasphemous, but Mr Byrnes said it was all done in a faithful spirit :
“I'm not doing it to be blasphemous, it's in good taste. I'm showing Jesus's strength and whatnot through muscles."
Across the globe, a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Miami, Fr Capo is using bodybuilding as a way of bringing young people into the church.
The 51 year old who is himself a bodybuilder, told Catholic News Service :
“For many young people, the fitness world of sports becomes a door to many other things that they can discover in the church. Sometimes they are people that are not connected at all to their faith but might be interested in sports and the fitness world, and that becomes the door for conversations.”
He said conversations at the gym inevitably turn into discussions on faith and religion and he’s even had impromptu confessions.
Fr Capo, who preaches the theology of fitness to nearly 40,000 followers on Instagram, recently quoted the late Pope John Paul II : “The Church cannot but encourage everything that serves in harmoniously developing the human body.”