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?
Yes, I remember watching Jack Lalanne on a B&W tv too. Amazing man
Jim Stacey says
So, while we seniors are reminiscing, who remembers Captain America? No, not the comic book character, but the guy who did incredible feats of strength. And there was Walt, if I have the correct name, the old commie who would run across the Golden Gate bridge in the morning and swim back, and this was when most of his contemporaries were dead.
And then there was a professor at Southern Illinois (I think) who was more fit than 90% of the competitors in the Olympics. I had a picture of him in the seventies with this caption; “Blank Blank [I have spent many hours trying without success to remember his name] takes his early morning run through a cemetery filled with friends who used to laugh at him.”
dolores drumheiser says
I also watched Jack on TV. He was an inspiration and also influenced me to get up off my couch and to exercise. I did not know at that time in my life that I was destined to be in the health and fitness field. I have been teaching all types of fitness classes, personal training for Ballys. I have been a member of Ballys since 1981, when it was called Holiday Spa. I did not know that this was his club. What is destiny, my story is. Now I am going to be certified with Polestar Pilates to train people on the reformer. I never really gave Jack the credit for this. I just evolved into what I am today, without any thought of the roots for the direction in my life. Jack was the father of exercise. Loved his enthusiasm and encouragement for everyone that watched his show. I just want to thank him for being who he was. Love you father exercise. Bye Jack!
Joe Cannon says
Delores, those are great words! Thanks for sharing and continued success !
Alan Fuchs says
I grew up watching Jack Lalane on [a black & white] TV as far back as I can remember. My brother wanted to lift weights and his Doctor (my uncle) told him lifting weights could give him a heart attack! Jack did more to promote physical fitness when it wasn’t known. The world will miss him. He was one of kind. May he rest in peace.
P.S. The Doctor (my uncle) died of a heart attack; Jack Lalane lived more than 40 years beyond that.
Joe Cannon says
Alan, Im sure Jack proved more than a few doctors wrong and you are right, he was really one of a kind. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂