Jack LaLanne life and biography

Jack LaLanne picture, image, poster

Jack LaLanne biography

Date of birth : 1914-09-26
Date of death : 2011-01-23
Birthplace : San Francisco, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-01-24
Credited as : Fitness and nutritional expert, the godfather of fitness,

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Francois Henri "Jack" LaLanne was an American fitness, exercise, nutritional expert, and motivational speaker who had been called "the godfather of fitness".

He was the first to open a health club in the United States and to have an exercise show on television. As a child, he ate a lot of sugary foods and got into trouble at school. "I was a sugarholic and a junk food junkie! It made me weak and it made me mean," LaLanne later said. But he completely changed his life around after attending a lecture by a nutritionist as a teenager. LaLanne cut out sugar and other unhealthy foods from his diet and began exercising. The one-time problem child transformed into a top high school athlete, playing on his school's football and wrestling teams.

Unheard of at the time, LaLanne opened a health club in Oakland, California, in 1936. Some doctors reportedly advised their patients not to go to his gym and labeled him a health nut. LaLanne actively looked for customers, offering to help reshape their bodies. Encouraging people to do weight training, he even developed several fitness devices, including the first leg extension machine. His club also had a snack bar offering healthy foods as LaLanne advocated good nutrition as an important part of getting in shape. "Eat right and you can't go wrong," he once said. LaLanne eventually developed a chain of health clubs that he later sold to the Bally Entertainment Corporation.

In 1951, LaLanne was chosen by a health food company to host a local exercise show, which eventually went into national syndication. He led audiences through a series of exercises, dressed in what would be his trademark look, a tight-fitting blue jumpsuit that showed off his impressive physique. Known for his on-air quips, LaLanne offered a lot of advice to his audience, including the following comments: "your waistline is your lifeline", "ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips" and "people don't die of old age, they die of inactivity." Not only did he talk the talk about fitness, LaLanne definitely walked the walk, winning the Mr. America competition in 1955.

A superb salesman, LaLanne used stunts and other marketing tactics to draw attention to importance of fitness and to lure more viewers to his show. He swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater, carrying 140 pounds of equipment at the age of 40 in 1954. Making a world record, LaLanne did 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes in 1956. On the program itself, he used another successful ploy to entertain the audience. LaLanne had his dog Happy perform tricks while he did exercises.

For decades, LaLanne has followed a strict regime. He gets up early and exercises for two hours—one hour of strength training and another hour of swimming. For breakfast, LaLanne has a protein shake. Fruit and egg whites are a typical lunch for him. Salad, brown rice, and grilled fish make up his usual dinner. LaLanne has not had sweets since he was a teenager and is vehemently opposed to eating dairy. "Am I a suckling calf? No other creature uses milk after they wean," LaLanne once told Sports Illustrated.

For several generations, people woke up and worked out with The Jack LaLanne Show, which aired Monday through Friday for more than 30 years. He told audiences to "get up, exercise, and feel good!" In the 1980s, however, he was eclipsed by other popular fitness personalities, such as Jane Fonda, who scored a huge success with her workout videos, and his show was cancelled. LaLanne continued to appear on television in infomercials, hawking a variety of fitness- and wellness-related products.

At a time when many might be slowing down, LaLanne proved how strong and healthy he was when he turned 70. He swam a 1.5-mile section of Long Beach Harbor while towing 70 people in 70 boats in 1984. If that was not enough, LaLanne was also handcuffed and shackled at the time.

In 2002, Jack LaLanne scored a big success by endorsing a juicer. More than a million Jack LaLanne Power Juicers were sold between 2002 and 2004, according to BusinessWeek magazine. In addition to the juicer, he has lent his support to a line of swimming pools and sells an assortment of books, videos, and other products through his own website.

Not one to retire, LaLanne can currently be heard on the health and wellness channel of VoiceAmerica, an Internet radio network, with his wife Elaine. They host a weekly program called Jack LaLanne Live!, which also features their nephew Chris LaLanne. He is still a sought-after expert, giving interviews on health and fitness topics to television and print journalists around the country.

During his impressive career, LaLanne has received many accolades. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. LaLanne was also inducted into the Muscle Beach Venice Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2007.

On January 23, 2011, Jack Lalanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia at his home in Morro Bay, California.

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