The Immortal Jack LaLanne, Dead at 96

Jan 24, 2011 | 4 comments

Today, a tip of the hat to Jack LaLanne, pioneering fitness guru, who died on Sunday at the age of 96 from respiratory failure due to pneumonia. LaLanne popularized the idea of working out and eating right and started what is believed to be the U.S.’s first health club, in Oakland, California in 1936. Living and dying will never be the same.

LaLanne came to prominence in the 1950s with an early morning TV exercise program geared to housewives. His usual outfit was a form-fitting jumpsuit and what looked like ballet slippers.

He regularly trained two hours a day, one hour of weight training and another hour exercising in the pool, keeping this up well into his late 80s. His support of fresh fruits and veggies, and juicing, was legendary. I heard it reported he had worked out the morning that he died, in spite of pneumonia.

He would do amazing feats on milestone birthdays. The first was in 1954, when he was 40 and wanted to prove he wasn’t “over the hill.” He swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge – underwater (with two air tanks so he could go the distance).

Two decades later, at the age of 61, he did it again, but this time, he did it while towing a 1,000-pound boat, his hands and feet bound. At the age of 70, he towed 70 rowboats for a mile, swimming in the ocean off of Long Beach, CA.

“You’ve got to work at living. Ninety-nine and nine-tenths of Americans work at dying!” he told viewers of his television show. “You’ve got to eat right, exercise and have goals and challenges. Exercise is king; nutrition is queen. Put ’em together and you’ve got a kingdom!”

Here’s a story from USA Today with some great quotes from celebrities who admired the man. Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to speak at his funeral, once arrangements are made.

He was probably in better shape in his 90s than most Americans in their 20s. Alas, we are mortal, and even Jack LaLanne had to draw his last breath. A big salute to someone who advocated healthy living, and living life to the fullest.

A Good Goodbye