It was way back as far as I can about remember seeing Jack Lalanne on tv telling us to get off the couch, put down the doughnuts, and start using our chair as a piece of gym equipment!
I can still hear his forceful, morally filled, drill sergeant commands and his white shepard named… ? Yes, it was Happy! Although it didn’t get me working out in my pre teens it was good knowing there was this get in shape, moral, patriotic person out there!
He died at 96 yrs old of pneumonia but I felt he would go to about 110, I really did, and if he hadn’t caught that he may have! Up until his last days he still worked out daily and obviously by his info commercials, was big into juicing – a super healthy way to get enormous amounts of antioxidants and naturally occurring nutrition!
But back in his childhood he claimed to have been a disaster in health and in behavior! Being a self professed “sugarholic” and junk food junkie, his many problems with health and attitude ended abruptly after attending a health lecture by Paul Bragg. He swore off sugar and went “healthy” on the spot. It has been found recently how excess sugars cause major health issues and many degenerative diseases and much faster aging.
He opened his first gym, considered the nations first fitness club in Oakland, Ca in 1936, I’ve actually been to one in Sacramento, Ca in the 70’s with the Jack Lalanne name. His father had died at 58 of a heart attack due to poor diet/nutrition only 3 years after opening the Oakland gym.
Imagine this… doctors felt this exercise and fitness stuff was actually dangerous! Of course they were all dead by the time Jack was probably 60! Jack said, “People thought I was a charlatan and a nut. The doctors were against me—they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.”
The same doctors who probably smoked, and ate a standard diet, in fact smoking was promoted by many doctors in the 50’ and 60’s, there actual tv commercials and magazine ads of doctors sponsoring cigarettes!
But of course, Jack was right and he invented equipment who’s concepts are still used today. His workouts even in his 40’s-60’s were legendary doing long term endurance feats and he had an amazing physique, not like a body builder so much as just plain ripped! Put his name in Google images and you’ll see something closer to Bruce Lee than Arnold Schwarznegger, he even had a workout challenge against Arnold when he was 54 and “Arnie” was 21 and beat him quite easily.
I’m into pre/post stretching and he wasn’t but I believe firmly this prevents possible injuries and keeps me loose. Also he stated that exercise was the king and diet was the queen of good health. Since, Dr Mercola has said diet, nutrition is 80% of our health and exercise is 20% (I believe he’s got it right!) insofar as value to the human overall health and longevity. I believe Jack, who was into juicing, no sugar, and exercise big time, was right on the money by his actions! I’m one of his biggest fans!
His fitness centers became known as European Health Spas and numbered about 200! He then sold the gyms to Bally, now called Bally Total Fitness. Some of his feats included:
- 1954 (age 40): swam the entire 8,981 feet (2,737 m) length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, under water, with 140 pounds (64 kg; 10 st) of air tanks and other equipment strapped to his body; a world record.
- 1955 (age 41): swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. When interviewed afterwards he was quoted as saying that the worst thing about the ordeal was being handcuffed, which significantly reduced his chance to do a jumping jack.
- 1956 (age 42): set what was claimed as a world reord of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked For It, a television program hosted by Art Baker.
- 1957 (age 43): swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound (1,100 kg; 180 st) cabin cruiser. The swift ocean currents turned this one-mile (1.6 km) swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km).
- 1958 (age 44): maneuvered a paddleboard nonstop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore. The 30-mile (48 km) trip took 9.5 hours.
- 1959 (age 45): did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes, to promote The Jack LaLanne Show going nationwide. LaLanne said this was the most difficult of his stunts, but only because the skin on his hands started ripping off during the chin-ups. He felt he couldn’t stop because it would be seen as a public failure.
- 1974 (age 60): For the second time, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
- 1975 (age 61): Repeating his performance of 21 years earlier, he again swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater and handcuffed, but this time he was shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
- 1976 (age 62): To commemorate the “Spirit of ’76”, United States Bicentennial, he swam one mile (1.6 km) in Long Beach Harbor. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
- 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, he towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 mile.
These feats also gained him promotion for his health and fitness show, gyms, and branded his name. That he succumbed to pneumonia is sad but this is truly a great man, a Godly man, patriot, leader, family man, and moral/ethical man. Till next time, God Bless,