One of my earliest memory I have of watching TV was when I just started walking and I watched my mom following the exercises on the “The Jack LaLanne Show” on a small black-and-white set and mom tried to do the exercises as Jack LaLanne demonstrated them. Jack, passed away at 96 on Sunday. Jack pioneered the fitness show genre. His show ran for 34 years, starting in 1959. Jack in a space roughly the size of a storage locker, with a chair as his only prop, doing jumping jacks and pushups and various other mostly calesthetics. Always energetic, always wearing his trademark belted jumpsuit. I grew up answering to Jack. He was always there with his endless ramblings of encouragement. Jack was like a super hero.
Quite simply, Jack LaLanne was Mr. Fitness. There were no others. Hard to believe in today’s fitness and diet crazed society that there could be just one. There was no Tae Bo, no Boot Camp, no Chuck Norris infomercials. Just Jack LaLanne. He was all we needed. Jack talked us of the benefits eating only raw foods in an era when macaroni and cheese was considered a vegetable. Jack LaLanne became the lone voice in the wilderness during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the average American considered the four food groups to be sugar, fat, grease and alcohol. Jack was the voice of health when doctors did advertisements for cigarettes. Everyone loved Jack LaLanne even the guilty. He just had so much enthusiasm and energy. You wanted to be like him; a relentlessly positive, dynamo in a cool body suit.
Jack opened his first health club in Oakland in 1936. He created a chain of 100 health clubs. He came to represent the best of all juicers, the Jack LaLanne Juicer with his always energetic infomercial.
For decades LaLanne topped himself with various public strongman stunts ;
Here are just a few of his crazy feats of strength and endurance
1954 (age 40): swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 pounds (64 kg; 10 st) of equipment, including two air tanks. A world record
1955 (age 41): swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed.
1957 (age 43): swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound (1,100 kg; 180 st) cabin cruiser.
He kept at it for years, into his 70s!
1979 (age 65): towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds (2,900 kg; 460 st) of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.
1980 (age 66): towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for over one mile (1.6 km) in less than one hour.
1984 (age 70): Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 mile.
Jack once joked that he could never die, because it would ruin his reputation. So he lived to the ripe old age of 96. There have been other fitness leaders that have disappointed us with their life spans. Natural foods pioneer and author of the best selling “Stalking the Wild Asparagus,” Euell Gibbons, died at 64. Running book author Jim Fixx dropped from a heart attack at 52. Jack LaLanne knew that to be the real deal you had to live a long time. He had no choice. Sometimes when celebrities die, it makes us feel old. Jack LaLanne, he had been old longer than most of us have been alive. I owe my life's work to those first exposures to Jack and his philosophy. So do every one of the hundreds of people I've trained and affected their lives in a positive way. It all started with Jack and that little black and white T.V. Some people should just never die... People like Jack LaLane...