Personal trainers need to know who Jack LaLanne was. But, if your under 30, Jack LaLanne was probably the guy you saw selling juicers on TV. While he did do that, I will make the bold statement that Jack LaLanne was more important than Arnold! Jack was more important than Joe Weider and Ronnie Coleman! Jack was the Captain America of fitness! While Jack passed away in 2011 at the age of 96, I'd like to take this moment to tell you just a little of who Jack LaLanne was and what he did, and after I'm finished, you'll never think he was just that juicer guy again.
In Jacks own words, the first 15 years of his life were unremarkable, until one day when attended a seminar on health and fitness. It was then that Jack removed all junk food from his diet and began a fitness and wellness regimen that would ultimately lead to jack opening the first modern day health spa in 1936.
Jack's health spas were even coed – which was scandalous at the time. Eventually, his gym morphed into a chain of 200 health clubs which became known as Jack LaLanne ’s Holiday Spa. Holiday Spa eventually became part of one of the largest chains of fitness centers in the world – Bally Total Fitness!
When Jack built his gym, he didn’t have the fancy equipment that we use today – so he invented them!
- Have you heard of the leg extension machine? Jack invented it!
- Have you heard of the Smith Machine? He invented that too!
- Have you heard of the Lat Pulldown Machine? Yes, Jack invented that also!
- How about the calf machine? Yep, he made that too.
Jack invented the first selectorzed strength training machines, which are the basis behind Life Fitness, Cybex, and practically every other piece of gym equipment you have ever heard of or used.
Jack LaLanne was the first person to encourage women and older adults to lift weights. This was at time when lifting weights was deemed unhealthy.
Jack not only had the first nationally televised exercise program – “The Jack LaLanne Show” – but the longest running exercise TV show in history! The Jack LaLanne Show was on TV for 34 years (from 1951-1985).
Jack was an expert in body weight exercises and showed people all over America how to improve fitness and health. Have you heard of the Jumping Jack? They call it the Jumping Jack because he popularized it.
Jack is also credited as being the first person to sell vitamins on TV.
On his birthday, to show the public what exercise and good nutrition can accomplish, Jack would do feats of strength and endurance that few would ever attempt even today. Just a few of these feats include:
- At 43, Jack sets a push up world record of 1033 pushups – in 23 minutes!
- At 60, Jack swims from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf, handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
- At 61 Jack swims the length of the Golden Gate bridge, handcuffed and shackled, pulling a 1000 pound boat –but now does it swimming UNDER WATER!
- At age 66, Jack swims, towing 10 boats with 77 people for over a mile – and does it in less than 1 hour.
- At age 70 Jack swims 1 ½ miles while handcuffed and shackled – AND pulling 70 boats filled with 70 people.
Jack knew what most dont – that Exercise is The Fountain of Youth!
Working out every day for about 2 hours a day –even into his 90s, Jack’s workout would consist of an hour each of swimming and weight lifting.
Jack was also a vegetarian for most of his life. Never at a loss of words, some of Jacks more famous quotes include:
- If man makes it. Don’t eat it.
- Remember this: your body is your slave; it works for you.
- The only way you get that fat off is to eat less and exercise more.
- Eat right and you can’t go wrong.
There is also a quote, I think of often, when I remember Jack, “I can’t die. It’ll ruin my image”.
I doubt that very much. RIP Jack LaLanne and thanks for everything.
What do you think?