Jack LaLanne, founding father of the fitness movement in the United States, died at home on Sunday at the age of 96.
Those of us who were around during the early days of television may remember him best for his syndicated exercise show, which first appeared in 1951 and stayed on the air for 33 years. I don’t remember exactly when I started watching the show, but I do remember being impressed by the two white German shepherds who often shared the stage with Jack.
When I was somewhat older, I also remember being struck with how honest, simple, and direct his message was. He didn’t try to sell you any dubious gadgets, techniques, or diet plans, even though he certainly had the opportunity and the means to do so. He preached a simple diet of natural, whole foods, along with basic strength training and regular physical activity—as he put it on most of his shows: "Exercise is king; nutrition is queen. Put 'em together and you've got a kingdom!"
The other key ingredient in LaLanne’s approach was constantly challenging yourself to do the best you can. And when it came to setting and achieving personal challenges, he truly led by example...
Over the years, he accomplished many amazing feats, like swimming across San Francisco Bay while handcuffed and towing a 1000 pound boat behind him. Or doing over 1000 pushups in 23 minutes. The older he got the more amazing his physical feats became (see this page for a list of the more notable ones), making him a true inspiration to anyone who wants to maintain a high level of health and fitness at every age. More than anyone else, LaLanne was responsible for debunking the idea that turning 40 is the end of the road when it comes to exercise and fitness.
Jack’s wife of 51 years, Elaine, and his three children are planning to keep the LaLanne fitness enterprise going, which includes an exercise program for seniors called Better Balance for Life, and a variety of books and videos (see their website for more info).
The family is planning a funeral service in Los Angeles for the first or second week of February.
Has Jack LaLanne helped inspire your personal health and fitness journey?
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