The Original Fitness Inspiration

When I was about 10 years old, I saw an infomercial for a fruit and vegetable juicer.  The man promoting it was a little 80 year old dynamo!  I’d never seen anyone with such energy and vitality.  His enthusiasm for health and fitness was palpable.  I soon found out that this was the one and only Jack Lalanne and he had been doing this for 60 years!

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Nowadays fitness personalities are everywhere.  But in the early to mid 1900’s there was one man who was light years ahead of all the rest.  Jack, the Godfather of Fitness, was a pioneer of in the health and wellness industry.   In a time just after the industrial revolution where physical activity became an ever decreasing part of our daily lives and packaged/processed foods were becoming the norm, Jack Lalanne stood atop a proverbial mountain shouting the gospel of daily exercise and whole food nutrition.
Let’s take a look at the long illustrious life of this fitness legend…

In his early years, during the roaring 20’s, Jack was a self proclaimed sugar and junk food addict.  He attributes his severe behavior and health problems to his poor nutritional habits.  But that all changed one day when Jack was 15 years old.  He attended a nutrition lecture that changed the course of his life.  The speaker promised that if he would exercise and eat a proper diet he would regain good health.

After that day he was “born again” focusing on good nutrition and daily exercise.  This transition wasn’t without it’s challenges.  Much like the workplace culture of today, Lalanne felt that his healthy habits alienated him from his peers.

“I had to take my lunch alone to the football field to eat so no one would see me eat my raw veggies, whole bread, raisins and nuts. You don’t know the crap I went through.”

But Jack persevered.  In his early 20’s he opened one of the first health clubs in the nation, packing it with free weights as well as many cable and pulley machines that he invented himself!  And although doctors warned that lifting weights would give people heart attacks and take away their libido, Jack built a chain of health clubs to teach people the value of vigorous exercise.

His TV program, “The Jack Lalanne Show”  aired for 30 years!  From the 1950’s to the 1980’s he came to people’s living rooms encouraging them to “get out of your seat and onto your feet”.  Jack was a living example that age should not be an excuse to slow down. To prove this point, he orchestrated some amazing feats of strength and endurance that he would perform on his birthdays. A few of his many famous birthday feats include:

-Age 40 he swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco while handcuffed.

-Age 45 he completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chinups in 1 hour 22 min on live television.

-Age 60 he swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco while handcuffed, shackled and TOWING A 1,000 LB BOAT!

-Age 70 once again handcuffed and shackled, fidgeting currents he towed 70 boats with 70 people for 1.5 miles in Long Beach to the Queen Mary.

Read that last one again.  The man was 70 years old when he did this!

With all of the quick fix exercises and diet pills we are bombarded with today, Jack’s philosophy on lifelong health is like a breath of fresh air.  He was a real life example that age need not be an excuse to slow down.  And if I have a day where I don’t feel like breaking a sweat, I’ll remember this: the day before Jack Lalanne passed away at 96 years old he did his daily 2 hour workout.


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