Death Comes Lifting provides fitness for misfits


Zak Bellante’s teen years were a nightmare.

Asthmatic with allergies and an eating disorder, he was underweight and unhappy.

He regained his health and confidence at the gym, but, in his black Slayer T-shirt and sweats, stuck out like the Grim Reaper in a sea of neon-hued Spandex.

Photo By Zack Shahen

“I was a freak way before I was fit,” says Bellante, 26, of Carnegie. “I was born loving heavy metal and horror movies. I thought there had to be an acceptable medium between fitness clothing and stuff I’d actually want to wear.”

Unable to find workout gear that suited his personal style, he started his own company, Death Comes Lifting.

Launched in 2017, the brand offers clothing, accessories and online training for folks with a punk-rock attitude. There are T-shirts with clever takes on horror movie titles, such as “Night of the Lifting Dead” and “The Flexorcist”, and a water bottle with a coffin-shaped emblem that reads “Lift Weights Drink Blood.”

Photo By Zack Shahen

Bellante, a certified personal trainer, designs workout plans for people who, despite their love of onscreen gore, are intimidated by the gym (or just can’t find an open one due to COVID-19 restrictions).

The website boasts free training programs, including The Evil Shred, a six-week, self-guided conditioning-and-fat-loss plan. People who need more motivation can sign up for a membership through Patreon,  which, depending on the subscription they choose, gives them a personalized regimen, nutrition and supplementation guides, one-on-one Zoom consultations, access to online tutorials and curated playlists featuring many local bands and ghoulish goodies. Prices range from $6.66 to $26.66 a month.

In October, which Bellante refers to as Bulktoberfest, clients can start a 13-week, Halloween-themed muscle-building training program so they can look killer in their costumes.

Amanda Kenberg, 26, of Ocean County, N.J., discovered Death Comes Lifting on Instagram. @deathcomeslifting

The lifelong horror fan was already a body-sculpting buff, but, like Bellante, didn’t like the gimmicky brands that dominate social media.
She joined the Lifting Dead Army to receive daily emails with specialized workouts, updates on merchandise and podcast episodes.
“The amount of knowledge I’ve gained from Zak’s emails about numerous topics within fitness is always appreciated,” Kenberg says. “I’ve also made quite a few friends through Death Comes Lifting. If you’re someone who feels it’s hard to make fitness friends, or friends in general, because you feel you’re so different from everyone else, Death Comes Lifting can fix that!”
For 42-year-old Adam Holtzapfel, of Bridgeville, morbid exercise routines are a way to fight morbid obesity.
“Having been a horror fan most of my life, it was nice seeing workout gear I’d wear versus what you find at most stores,” he says. “Also, seeing the workout programs on the website, they range from novice to experienced and are different than the standard idea of working out.”
According to a study by researchers at the University of Westminster in London, watching a 90-minute creature feature can burn about 150 calories.
Bellante thinks that’s a good start, but not enough to make a difference.
“Believe me,” he says, “I am that former fat kid who wants to sit in front of the TV and watch horror movies and eat chocolate all day, but fitness saved my life.”