Donning speed-dealer sunnies and a T-shirt depicting a muscled Jesus, Hugo Byrnes is a larger-than-life character in his Alice Springs community. Source: ABC News.
The 19-year-old is the self-described “founding father” of the lift-wear brand Sunday Mass and represents a growing countercultural movement of generation Z Christian bodybuilders.
Mr Byrnes was not raised in a Catholic household; in fact, his father rejected Catholicism at school. Meanwhile, Mr Byrnes describes his mother as spiritual, someone who keeps rocks and crystals around the house.
But his new-found faith was not inspired by either of his parents.
It all started at high school in Alice Springs, when a few mates started sharing bodybuilding memes they found on social media.
The niche memes would show famous bodybuilders with quotes from the Bible, gradually exposing Mr Byrnes and his friends to Catholic teachings.
“You start paying more attention to it because it’s funny, it’s cool pictures,” he said.
The Catholic imagery proved to be the divine inspiration for his boutique clothing brand, which promotes “gains” with slogans like, “On the seventh day he lifted” and “The Last Supplement”.
Not everyone is a fan of Bible puns.
“A couple of people on TikTok have said, ‘This is blasphemous, you’re going to hell’,” he said.
But Mr Byrnes said it was all done in the spirit of sincere faith.