Elaine LaLanne, who was Jack LaLanne’s wife for 51 years and frequent guest in his tv cameos gave this written statement “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.”
Bob Barker, the former “Price is Right” host, has credited LaLanne’s encouragement with helping him to start exercising and keep exercising more often, and he told the AP on Sunday that “He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness, I saw him in about 2007 and he still looked remarkably good. He still looked like the same enthusiastic guy that he always was.”
Early in his life, Jack LaLanne, which is pronounced lah-LAYN’ has credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eighty years to help others to transform their lives, too. LaLanne is quoted as saying “The only way you can hurt the body is not use it, inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.”
His television workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the ’70s. Jack LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed simple exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel so that anyone could perform them. He also created a chain of fitness studios that bore his name, and was later bough out by Bally Total Fitness. In more recent times, he has touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer.
In 1957 when he turned 43, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on the “You Asked For It” television show. At age 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor.
“I never think of my age, never,” LaLanne said in 1990. “I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I’m just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They’re more productive than they’ve ever been in their whole lives right now.”
Fellow bodybuilder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger credited him with taking exercise out of the gymnasium and into living rooms. Schwarzenegger in 1990 is quoted as saying that “He laid the groundwork for others to have exercise programs, and now it has bloomed from that black and white program into a very colorful enterprise.”
In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow and “muscle bound” and made a woman look masculine at that time.
“You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights,” he once said. “It just wasn’t done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out. “It was the same with women. Back then, women weren’t supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer,” LaLanne said.
The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said. The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by then pioneer nutritionist Paul Bragg, who was advocating the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet, of which we now understand more today.
“He got me so enthused,” LaLanne said. “After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, ‘Jack, you’re a walking garbage can.” Soon after that talk, LaLanne constructed a homemade gym in his back yard. “I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs,” he said. His own daily workout routine typically consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool. “It’s a lifestyle, it’s something you do the rest of your life,” LaLanne said. “How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne. We pay tribute here to Jack LaLanne died, as the Fitness King who had died at age 96, for his ushering public awareness of the value of nutrition and exercise. Rest in peace, our friend!