Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jack LaLanne - The Godfather of Fitness

In 1936 Jack LaLanne opened the first fitness center in the United States. He encouraged people to eat healthy and exercise, especially strength training with weights. He was 40 years ahead of his time.

Can you believe that back then people thought he was a nut? Doctors told people that working out with weights would cause heart attacks and decreased sex drives. They told women they would develop manly physiques if they exercised too much. And coaches prevented their athletes from working out at the gym because it would cause them to be sluggish and muscle bound.

Wow..conventional wisdom and medical knowledge have finally caught up with LaLanne. Jack is 93 years young and people who know him say he's found the fountain of youth. Jack would probably say, "I can't die, it would ruin my image!" That's just one of the LaLanneisms quoted from the fitness guru's website.

Early in LaLanne's life he discovered that eating healthy and exercising were the keys to a long life. He developed his own techniques for muscle strengthening by studying Anatomy textbooks in a college pre-med program and attending chiropractic college. Instead of opening an office as a chiropractor, he opened a gym and began one a time converting ordinary people to his revolutionary thinking about lifestyle. When the coaches were saying no to lifting weights, LaLanne was giving out keys to his gym so athletes could sneak in to work out.

LaLanne is responsible for many firsts in the fitness revolutions. His inventions include: the leg extension machine and pulley machines using cables and the first weight selectors. He was the first to develop weight lifting programs for women and he also encouraged the disabled and elderly to exercise for health. “There are 640 muscles in the human body,” Jack explains, “and I take every one of them into account as I plan each exercise routine.”

Decades before Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda, Jack LaLanne inspired average Americans to get fit with his television show. I can remember as a small child, flipping through the channels and stopping to watch the man in the red jumpsuit do leg raises and lunges.

LaLanne is famous for his feats of strength. Several times he's swam over a mile shackled in chains and pulling a boat - sometimes several boats! For his seventieth birthday he swam handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towing 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor, Ca to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles away!

Mr. LaLanne has been awarded most, if not all, of the national fitness awards and has his own star on the walk of fame in Hollywood, Ca. He's an inspiration to all who know him. He loves to play tricks on people. When he meets someone new he's been known to act deaf or feeble then spring at them with the energy of a lion, "Gotcha, didn't I!"

I can only hope to be as spry in my 90's and if I follow Jack LaLanne's example it's more than a hope, it's a real possibility.


Shawn @ SMB College Life said...

Exercise and eating healthy can difinitely lead to a long and energetic life, but one of the things that I've found is that exercise is a great key to stress relief. I've found throughout my busy college life that if I give up an hour or so of relaxing after a long day to exercise I'm not only a lot more energetic, but I feel so much more relief than if I would spend the time watching a movie or playing guitar to relax. I've also found that exercising gives me a sharper mind in classes and helps me think through homework a lot better. My exercising this semester consists of 1-2 hours of raquetball, followed by running between 1-2 miles. This is helping me to relieve a lot of my every day stresses and keeps me sharp and awake in class. Hopefully I can keep the same routine for years and follow in the footsteps of some people like Jack LaLanne. Oh, I thought of a question when reading your post....wasn't he the guy who invented the juicer, or was that somebody else? Either way, that's another way to stay healthy by eating right, which is something I could improve on!

Lisa McGlaun said...


Jack LaLanne is the juicer guy! I almost put that in my post but decided to concentrate on his other accomplishments. But you are right, you can still see him on infomercials selling his juicer.

I think he's a great inspiration for us all and I commend you for the way you are taking care of yourself. Maybe you can inspire me to also get out and run again. I've been lax about it since the weather turned cold.

Best Wishes,

Motherwise said...

I have the juicer and I love it. He is amazing and I remember watching him as a little kid. I wish I had his dedication - it usually comes and goes. (As does my extra weight...)

Mother Earthbeats said...

Wow.. I remember seeing Jack on TV when I was little too! Thank you so much for sharing this. It reminds me that I am on the right path in keeping in good health and great shape. I am a young grandmother of 45, and really need the extra energy to keep up with my little ones. Now if I can be as healthy as Jack 40 years from now, I will be very lucky indeed!


PS... Having a great attitude is very important as well. I am a 'my cup is half full' kind of girl. LOL

Lisa McGlaun said...


I think juicing is great. We have aa Jamba Juice right around the corner from my house. I love to go there. I guess I'm a little lazy. We own a juicer but I hate the thought of cleaning it after I use it.

Thanks for the comment. Good to see you hanging around.


Lisa McGlaun said...

mother earthbeats,

You are so right about the attitude. I think that makes all the difference in the world. We are what we think after all...and eat, and

Have a great day. Thanks for the comment.


Danny said...

I remember watching Jack on TV and towing boats around San Francisco bay. He's a cool healthy guy and an inspiration!

Lisa McGlaun said...


I have a faint memory of the towing boat stunts too. I think he's great and I want to be like him when I'm in my 90's.