Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Remembering Jack LaLanne September 26, 1914 - January 23, 2011

Jack LaLanne, the "Godfather of Fitness" once said when asked about the difference in public attitude between today and when he first opened his gym decades ago, "Then I was a crackpot and a charlatan, today I am an authority...and believe me I can't die, it would ruin my image."

This was one of many quotes or what he called "LaLanneisms."  He fervently believed every human being can attain maximum body health and fitness if they will practice moderation, eat the most natural foods, and exercise on a regular basis.  Over his many years, he taught on national television, radio talk shows and in feature stories, his little gems.  Many of them were listed in his funeral program that was held in the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills on February 1, 2011.  Other words of wisdom include "Work at living and you don't have to die tomorrow" "Eat right and you can't go wrong" and People don't die of old age, they die of inactivity."

Jack LaLanne was born in San Francisco, California to immigrants from France.  He grew up in Bakersfield, California and later Berkeley.  His dad died at 58 from a heart attack caused by poor nutrition.  He claimed that as a boy, he was addicted to sugar and junk food.  He displayed huge temper tantrums and suffered from headaches and bulimia and dropped out of school at the age of 14.  A year later, he listened to a talk given by a health food pioneer that focused on the evils of meat and sugar.  It was the talk that encouraged LaLanne to change many of his habits and focus on the importance of good health.  He went back to school and began daily workouts .  He played football on the high school football team and following high school, LaLanne enrolled in college at San Francisco having earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.  It was during that time that he also concentrated on bodybuilding and weightlifting.

LaLanne opened what is considered the nation's first health and fitness club in 1936 in Oakland, California.  Many physicians, during that time, told their patients to stay away from his health club.  They claimed that" LaLanne was an exercise nut, whose programs would make them muscle bound and cause severe medical problems.  LaLanne continued to develop new exercise equipment and methods, many of them are still standards for the physical fitness industry today. He also invented the original model of the "Smith machine."  He continued to expand his exercise facilities that became known as "Jack LaLanne's European Health Spas.  He eventually licensed his health clubs to the Bally company now known as Bally Total Fitness.

LaLanne's fitness centers were often used by professional wrestlers and his ownership in them led to LaLanne briefly entering a professional wrestling career.

He soon took his exercise and fitness advice to television and initiated "The Jack LaLanne Show" that was the longest running television exercise program in history.  He also published several books and videos on fitness and nutrition, appeared in movies, and began promoting many of his creations from electric juicers to vitamin supplements to exercise equipment.  He celebrated his 95th birthday with the release of a new book called "Live Young Forever." He said his two simple rules on nutrition are "If man made it, don't eat it" and "if it tastes good, spit it out."

During LaLanne's lifetime, he accomplished some amazing feats.  Many of his feats were documented in his funeral program including at age 41, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed and at the age of 65, LaLanne towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko while handcuffed and shackled and the boats were filled with 6500 lbs. of Louisiana wood pulp.

LaLanne funeral
Over the years, LaLanne received numerous honors and accolades including "The President's Council's Lifetime Achievement Award and the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport by then governor Arnold Schwarznegger. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

LaLanne's funeral program
He appeared in several films and television shows
including Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" The Simpsons, Beefcake, and Amazing Discoveries.  He also appeared on an episode of The Addam's Family's "Fester Goes on a Diet."

Jack LaLanne died on January 23, 2011 at the age of 96 from respiratory failure.  He continued to exercise until the day before his death.  He had been sick for about a week but refused to see a doctor.

Among those who paid honor to LaLanne at his memorial service were Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Simmons, Lou Ferrigno and several other fitness gurus.  His program reads   Jack LaLanne  Is Now God's Personal Trainer  1914-2011

LaLanne gravesite
He rests in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills (pictured).

No comments:

Post a Comment