Jack LaLanne - the Godfather of Fitness

This blog was written several years ago but I wanted to remind you of Jack LaLanne...the American fitness guru who died Sunday, January 23, 2011 at his home in Morrow Bay, California of respiratory failure due to pneumonia. He was 96 years old.

Remember the handsome guy in tight tights doing handstands on a chair on early TV? He promoted fitness as a young man and brought physical fitness and healthful living to TV.

Jack LaLanne, born Francois Henri LaLanne on September 26, 1914 in San Francisco, California, the son of French immigrants is an American fitness, exercise and nutritional expert, celebrity, lecturer and motivational speaker. He admits that as a child he was addicted to sugar and junk foods. He was very troubled as a teenager and prone to rages.

However, at age 15 he heard a talk on health and nutrition which was simple but had a powerful influence on the troubled boy. He decided to focus on his diet and exercise habits, concentrating on bodybuilding and weightlifting, which in the 1930s, was uncommon.

Jack gained worldwide renown for his success as a bodybuilder as well as his prodigious feats of strength. He had planned to become a chiropractor, but in 1936 decided to open his own health spa (gym) and encouraged clients to better themselves through weight-training.

He designed the first leg extension machines, pulley machines using cables and weight selectors which are now standard in the fitness industry. He also encouraged women to lift weights (in spite of the fact that at that time, it was thought that this would make women look masculine and unattractive.)

Between 1951 and 1984, LaLanne presented fitness and exercise advice on television. “The Jack Lalanne Show” was the first ever television program devoted to exercise Critics said the show would be off the air in six weeks, but it lasted 34 years.

After his TV show ended, LaLanne remained in the public eye with a series of fitness stunts, usually performed on his birthday. In 1955, he swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco, while wearing handcuffs.

In 1991, for his 70th birthday, he swam a mile while shackled to 70 boats carrying 70 people. Now in his 90s, LaLanne is still in excellent health. He says he has not missed a day of workouts -- or had a sugary dessert -- since 1930. He still appears on television, selling his Jack LaLanne Power Juicers.

At age 93, he continued to work out every morning for two hours. He spent one and a half hours in the weight room and a half an hour in the pool. Jack and his wife, Elaine, age 80, live in Morro Bay, California. "I don't care how old I live", he says, "I just want to be living while I am living!"

In a 2004 interview, at the age of 90, he said he has "an active sex life"

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