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Health goth really is a thing: are your black tracksuits at the ready?

Since the first reported goth walked into a local cemetery wearing a floor length trench coat, pale makeup, painted black nails, black lipstick and flicking through a Mary Shelley novel, the movement has become one of the most endearing – or should that read enduring? – subcultures of the past 30 years.

Recently, though, the fashion world has been sniffing around the goth aesthetic, before appropriating it into its latest clothing fad, health goth. Yes, you read correctly. Health and goth. Together at last.

Health goth involves taking a dark cloud all the way to your local gym. Just pop on a black tracksuit and pow, you’re committed to keeping things spooky while drinking protein shakes and pumping iron. I think not.

Regardless of how pale and uninterested in physical activity goths might seem, it’s time they enlisted some of their spirit friends involved to help sort out this mess. In an age where people are obsessed with updating everything, everywhere, every second, goths are a lovely reminder that things don’t have to change.

And goths don’t have to do sport either. They already belong to their own team with a legitimate visual language. It’s a language that allows like-minded souls to connect, finding beauty in darkness, listening to music that might be considered ominous, and holding advanced degrees in next-level back combing. Goth is safe, solid, and built to last, thanks to some powerful hair products.

Goth is also about showing the world your inner life and telling that world what you’re into. Fashion is the opposite. Fashion dresses you for the job and/or life you want. It’s all about pretence, camouflage, hiding the real you with fabulous accessories or updating your look with a natty new frock.

Certainly, new variations on the goth theme have emerged (emo, steampunk, seapunk, Victoriana, Witchouse, cyber-goth among them) but, ultimately, the original goth look transcends fashion.

Fashionistas seem to think that doing health goth is as easy as popping on a black tracksuit and bringing some shade to dull the glare of white teeth on display at your local branch of Fitness First. To them, it’s all about wearing high performance, futuristic sports gear with an emphasis on “label clashing” (their words not mine for the mixing of mainstream labels like Nike or Adidas) – all in black, of course.

Some goths may exercise, but any goth worth their slug salt wouldn’t encourage the label worship mentioned above. Having spent years avoiding the sun because of their commitment to pale makeup and an enduring love of crushed velvet – even in 40 degree heat – goths know it’s not a great idea to sweat it up on the elliptical cross-trainer with a full face of slap on. Red-faced does not a goth make.

I wear dark colours when running, not to be goth but in the hope that I’ll miraculously blend into the asphalt and no one notices me huffing and puffing about the place. Let’s be honest: health goth is about advertisers trying to sell us the same old sports gear in a darker shade simply by giving it a new name.

The only good that can come out of all of this is that maybe, just maybe, some chump at the gym might broaden his musical horizons and ditch the hard NRG trance and think about picking up a copy of Mary Shelley. One day. If that ever happens, I’m all for it.

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