Fitness Pioneer Jack Lalanne Dies At 96

NoahFairbanks.com

Jack LaLanne, whose obsession with grueling workouts and good nutrition, complemented by a salesman’s gift, brought him recognition as the founder of the modern physical fitness movement, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96.

The cause was respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia, said his son Dan Doyle.

A self-described emotional and physical wreck while growing up in the San Francisco area, Mr. LaLanne began turning his life around, as he often told it, after hearing a talk on proper diet when he was 15.

He started working out with weights when they were an oddity, and in 1936 he opened the prototype for the fitness spas to come — a gym, juice bar and health food store — in an old office building in Oakland.

“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he remembered. “The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.” But Mr. LaLanne persevered, and he found a national pulpit in the age of television.

NoahFairbanks.com

Jack LaLanne

“The Jack LaLanne Show” made its debut in 1951 as a local program in the San Francisco area, then went nationwide on daytime television in 1959. His short-sleeved jumpsuit showing off his impressive biceps, his props often limited to a broomstick, a chair and a rubber cord, Mr. LaLanne pranced through his exercise routines, most notably his fingertip push-ups.

Mr. LaLanne promoted himself and his calling into his final years, often accompanied at events by his wife, a physical fitness convert but hardly a fanatic. He brimmed with optimism and restated a host of aphorisms for an active and fit life.

“I can’t die,” he most famously liked to say. “It would ruin my image.”

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