Fitness Pioneer Jack LaLanne Dies at 96
By Carolyn Richardson
Fitness guru Jack LeLanne has died. He was 96. His wife of 51 years, Elaine, shared the news through LeLanne’s agent Rick Hersh with this: "I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for."
While many know him from infomercials for the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, and his “that’s the power of the juice” phrase, the pioneer was a pitchman for overall health decades before it was popular. Following his securing a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, LaLanne opened a health studio in 1936 in Oakland, California which featured a juice bar, health food store and gym. He urged his members to lift weights: this at a time when the medical community did not promote resistance training.
In 1951, LaLanne took his fitness message to television with “The Jack LaLanne Show,” which stands as the longest running television exercise program according to IMDB. In its 34 years on the air, the show catered to sedentary housewives and featured exercise routines that incorporated chairs and broomsticks. Even after it was off the air, ESPN Classic aired the show in syndication. Episode one is featured on his website and begins with Jack’s pitch for better health , “I’m here for one reason and one reason only to show you how to feel better and look better so you can live longer.”
Jack’s influence on the fitness industry is unmatched. He helped design the first leg extension machines and pulley machines using cables. His amazing physical feats, such as swimming from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco likely inspired the physical challenge shows we see on television today. Jack’s health spas grew into the hundreds by the ‘80’s and were eventually licensed to the Bally Company and became Bally Total Fitness. And though he did not invent the exercise, the popularity he garnered for the quintessential cardio exercise, the Jumping Jack, is actually named after him.
He was quoted as saying “I can't die, it would ruin my image.” But with 96 years to his credit, if there ever was one, Jack LaLanne was and is the ideal picture of health.
Calorie Count wrote about Jack LaLanne on his 95th birthday last year.
Were you a fan of Jack LaLanne?