Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jack LaLanne, My Hero, An American Icon..............

Jack LaLanne Circa 1945
Today, my blog addresses a true hero to humanity.....a person who showed the world the way to physical and emotional health; a person who, against the advice of the learned minds of his day, led by example to illustrate what we humans can do to lead happier, prolonged lives.  This hero got relatively little recognition for his leadership role---certainly much less than deserved.

Francois Henri "Jack" LaLanne (1914---2011) was called "The Godfather of Fitness".  He was born in San Francisco to French Immigrant parents.

As a boy, he said he was addicted to sugar and junk food.  He said his life was a "living hell", and he suffered terrible migraine headaches and bulimia.  He said his life began to turn around when, at the age of 14, he heard a talk on health and nutrition which focused on the evils of sugar and meat.  He then began to change his life through nutrition and exercise.

He began working out daily, and returned to school, where he earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

In 1936, he opened the nation's first health and fitness club in Oakland, California.

Physicians, however, advised their patients against attendance at his club because they said his programs would lead to heart attacks and cause "muscle-boundness".   Doctors also said LaLanne was an "exercise nut".  Ha.  By 1980, LaLanne's European Health Spa locations numbered 200.
Jack and His Famous Dog
LaLanne had a television show, "The Jack LaLanne Show", that lasted 34 years---the longest running exercise show in history.

LaLanne blamed overly processed foods for much of the nation's health problems.  He advocated a meatless diet (with the exception of fish).  He ate two meals per day, and never snacked between meals.  His advice---"If man made it, don't eat it;  If it tastes good, spit it out."

Jack Teaches Nutritition
More advice--- "Do not warm up prior to exercise.  Does a lion warm up when he's hungry?  Uh oh---here comes an antelope...better warm up".

His daily workout regimens consisted of working muscle groups with resistance training until the muscles fatigued.  This technique is ubiquitous today, but was considered radical in the early days of weight training.

He was so far ahead of his time that it is laughable today.

A few of LaLanne's unbelievable feats:

---In 1954, at the age of 40, he swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge (1.7 miles) underwater, with 140 pounds of air tanks strapped to his body

---At the age of 41, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf (1.25 miles) while handcuffed

---At the age of 42, he set a world record by doing 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes on television

---At 43 years of age, he swam the 1-mile Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500 pound cabin cruiser

---In 1958, at age 44, he paddleboarded 30 miles non-stop from Fallon Island to San Fransisco

--In 1959, he did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes

---In 1974, at age 60, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf while handcuffed, shackled, and towing a 1,000 pound boat

---In 1980, at age 66, he towed 10 boats carrying 77 people over 1 mile at North Miami, Florida

---In 1984, at age 70, he towed 70 rowboats over 1 mile in Long Beach harbor
Towing 10 Rowboats and 77 People
LaLanne has been awarded the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

In a day and age when the media glorify the silly, sappy antics of Hollywood "stars" and superficial "celebrities", it is unfathomable that this true shining star did not receive nearly the recognition for his trail-blazing accomplishments that he deserved.
Jack LaLanne, Age 85
Jack LaLanne is as much a hero to me and others as I can imagine.  He is a true icon, worthy of the greatest praise as a role model who changed millions of lives by living his dream.


  1. I know we have talked often of Jack Lalanne, I am happy you wrote about him. I will not complain that I am working too hard at the gym and that I am too old to be doing it! What an inspiration and a man ahead of his time!

  2. wow, i didn't know all those facts about jack lalanne. thanks for sharing!

  3. his wife didn't seem to be too much of a slouch in the fitness department either. :)

  4. We vegetarians can do anything ;)

  5. That's Incredible.
    Is his middle name Samson?;)
    My boys are going to love this.....or else!

  6. He was truly ahead of his time. I remember doing exercises with him on TV right after I had my first child, over 40 years ago!

    Oh, if only I had stayed with that routine more vigorously. :)

  7. So... are you following in his footsteps:)

  8. How many people over time science said they were nuts, only to later find out they were right?


  9. "Great Guy" but for me a bit to much muscles. Fitness is good, but when the men are walking: "with a razor-blade under their arms" (so you say in Germany) I don't like it.


  10. I had never heard of him but he looks quite a man. Loved the post Clint very informative.


  11. I had no idea about Jack LaLanne's history! Wow!


  13. Aw, I was thinking that first one was early you.
    I remember his TV shows and think I bent and lifted a few times with him. He was a pioneer.
    Arkansas Patti

  14. This is truly amazing, CLint. I appreciate reading all this today. I will forward it to some of my family members and friends.


  15. Wow! What a story. Good job Clint.

  16. Great post. I wish I was half as self-disciplined as he was.

  17. What an amazing life this man led and to a very ripe old age. I wonder if giving up meat all together is the way to go when it comes to diet, not that I eat a whole lot of it but the once a month 4oz steak is heavenly!

    A true inspiration, thanks for sharing this Clint, it shows a person is never too old to keep fit.

  18. Yes he was the first person to intro me to a healthy diet of juicing and exercise. I was blessed to get to attend one of his seminar and he gave me Beets and carrot and apple juice and I thought this is gonna make me "puke" .I hate beets ...but I turned that lil sample cup up and my eyes grew as bright as the that was good ....he was amazing and I am thankful for his example that has encouraged me to seek out a healthy lifestyle....I never bought his juicer but he inspired me enough that I own a Champion Juicer and a VitaMix ....and have become a vegan ....
    Thanks for the post Clint

  19. Hello Clint, Well Jack has done what he wanted to do, and seems very happy with it. Personally, I like the more natural my Ray..I am sure your lovely Cindy loves you just as you are also. Blessings to you.