RIP Jack LaLanne

young Jack LaLanne

“I can’t die. It would ruin my image.”

“I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline. “

“How do you build up your bank account? By putting something in it everyday.Your health account is no different. What I do today, I am wearing tomorrow. If I put inferior foods in my body today, I’m going to be inferior tomorrow, it’s that simple.”

“Maybe you don’t believe in Jesus. But was Jesus a showman? Why did he go around making the blind see and the lame walk and those kinds of things? He did it to call attention to his philosophy.”

Jack LaLanne, the American fitness icon, passed away Sunday, January 23rd at age 96. He died of respiratory failure as a result of pneumonia complications. With so many years of health and vigor, some wondered if he would live forever. And as we see with Jack LaLanne’s passing, all good things must come to an end.

Francois Henri “Jack” LaLanne was born September 26, 1914 in San Franciscio. He was the son of French immigrants, and grew up addicted to sugar and junk food. He experienced bouts of rage, suicidal feelings, and at one time tried to burn his house down.  When he was 15, he heard health food pioneer Paul Bragg give a talk on health and nutrition. Inspired by Bragg’s teachings, Jack started focusing on his exercise and eating habits and studied human anatomy. He concentrated on bodybuilding and weightlifting.

Nicknamed the “Godfather of Fitness,” LaLanne was a bodybuilder, exercise and nutritional expert, TV personality, and even earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.  Quoting his obituary in the LA Times,

“Though LaLanne was for many years dismissed as merely a “muscle man” — a notion fueled to some extent by his amazing feats of strength — he was the spiritual father of the health movement that blossomed into a national craze of weight rooms, exercise classes and fancy sports clubs. LaLanne opened what is commonly believed to be the nation’s first health club, in Oakland in 1936. In the 1950s, he launched an early-morning televised exercise program keyed to housewives. He designed many now-familiar exercise machines, including leg extension machines and cable-pulley weights. And he proposed the then-radical idea that women, the elderly and even the disabled should work out to retain strength. Full of exuberance and good cheer, LaLanne saw himself as a combination cheerleader, rescuer and savior. And if his enthusiasm had a religious fervor to it, well, so be it.”

Jack LaLanne stretching

“Have you seen some of the crap they’re selling as exercise equipment now?” Jack wondered. “How about that Suzanne Somers? She should have been thrown in jail for selling the piece-of-crap Thigh Master. It just develops a little muscle on the inner thigh. What good is that? And have you seen Tony Little, the guy who screams on TV? He’s like an imbecile. He says you need this little thing to hold you while you do a sit-up. Why does the government let him get away with it?”

Jack LaLanne in his 90sAs a woman who has struggled with health and weight issues since my childhood years, Jack LaLanne has been somewhat of an idol to me. I have several of his books, and tried to adhere to his fitness and nutrition advice. I’ve consumed countless glasses of freshly juiced fruits and vegetables …. thanks to my persistence after watching his juicer machine infomercials. My father-in-law tries to be helpful by encouraging me to give Jack LaLanne’s advice a try…little does he know how much it’s been a part of my life already. He preached the gospel of eating right and being active…joking,

“It is a religion for me. It is a way of life. A religion is a way of life, isn’t it? Billy Graham was for the hereafter. I’m for the here and now.”

To the man of eternal health and vigor – Rest in Peace.