Jack LaLanne, the first and greatest apostle of fitness, a legend that has inspired millions, passed away on January 23rd, 2011. He was 97 years old, and over the course of his near century on this planet he helped usher in an age of health awareness and the desire for physical fitness like no other. He pioneered the opening of gyms, created many of the machines used today within them, and urged women and older folks to stay healthy by working on their strength. Decades before Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons were promoting health and fitness Jack LaLanne had been at work. Today we remember Jack LaLanne for all the great work he did, the lives he changed, and the fitness revolution that he helped usher in.
Jack was born in 1914, just as World War I was starting. A self-confessed ‘sugarholic’ and junk food junkie, he turned his life around at the age of 15 when he heard a public lecture given by famed nutritionist Paul Bragg. He opened the nation’s first health and fitness club in 1936 in Oakland, California, and encouraged everybody to attend. By the 1980’s he had over 200 gyms, and eventually signed them over to Bally Company, which created Bally Total Fitness.
In 1951 Jack LaLanne started the Jack LaLanne Show, which would go on to be the longest running health show in history, running for a total of 34 years. He released numerous books, health products, vitamin lines and even appeared in the movies. We’re sure he would have loved P90X! Famous for his Power Juicer machines, he was a ubiquitous presence in the world of health even up to his late nineties, releasing his book, Stay Young Forever.
Jack LaLanne was famous for two simple sayings when it came to nutrition: “If man made it, don’t eat it,” and “If it tastes good, spit it out.” He was a pescatarian, and avoided coffee, and we wish he could have tried Shakeology. When asked about his reasons for exercising he said the following:
“I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don’t work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It’s my tranquilizer. It’s part of the way I tell the truth — and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years.”