If you ever wondered who inspired the term, "jumping jack," now you know. Jack LaLanne, American fitness and health guru, has passed away of respiratory failure
due to pneumonia age ninety-six. Known for his chiseled persona,
extraordinary acts of physical prowess and his television exercise program,
LaLanne is seen as a "spiritual father"
of the modern fitness movement. He's also credited with being far ahead
of his time in his nutritional advice, urging Americans to "replace
white ﬂour, sugar, and devitalized foods with live, organic, natural
foods." Health reporters look back at what made the Jack LaLanne legend:
His Fitness Regime Began There was a time before Jack LaLanne became
Jack LaLanne: it was his awkward, candy-filled adolescent years that
inspired the man to become perpetually fit. A Los Angeles Times obituary
written by Claudia Luther
recounts the story of how, when he was a child, "his mother spoiled
him, giving him sweets as a reward." During adolescence he became a
"sugarholic" and developed a "violent temper and suicidal thoughts"
while failing in school and being "weak and skinny." After inspiration
from nutritionist Paul Bragg, LaLanne resolved to be the "strong person
he wanted to be" (to be an athlete and get "the girls to like me").
"LaLanne took Bragg's message fully to heart," writes Luther. "And, by
his own testimony and that of everyone around him, he never had cake,
pie, ice cream or any sweet from that day forward, nor did he drink a
single cup of coffee or tea."
His Message: 'It's Never Too Late To Get in Shape' Huffington Post contributor John Robbins
notes that when LaLanne "encouraged the elderly to lift weights,
doctors said this was terrible advice," now his pointers have been
"vindicated a thousandfold." As a living example of "never to late to
get in shape," LaLanne performed enormous stunts at milestone "senior"
ages: "On his 60th birthday, he swam from the notorious Alcatraz island
prison to San Francisco while handcuffed, towing a thousand-pound
boat....On his 65th birthday, Jack LaLanne towed 65 hundred pounds of
wood pulp across a lake in Japan. On his 70th birthday, he celebrated by
towing 70 rowboats with seventy people on board for a mile and a half
across Long Beach Harbor, all while handcuffed and with his feet
shackled." And, in his 90's "Jack was a living testimony to the value of
regular exercise and a healthful lifestyle."
Entreating America 'to Join Him in His Quest for Physical Perfection'
His fitness mission was a call for Americans of all ages to get in shape
in whatever way they could, and LaLanne developed the tools for them to
get there. The Guardian's Haroon Siddique recounts that he "used his television show to promote his Power Juicer, which found its way into many US kitchens, and is still going strong today." And his LaLanneisms have, over the years, permeated pop-culture: "If man makes it, don't eat it," and "If it tastes good, spit it out".
Legacy: 'How Far Ahead of His Time He Really Was' In 2004, John Eliot,
an expert in the psychology of fitness and health, told USA Today this: "What's really fascinating is how far ahead of his time he really
was...At the time, coaches told [athletes] not to do weightlifting stuff
because it was bad for them. It wasn't until the late '70s, when the
Dallas Cowboys hired the first strength coach, that people paid real
attention." The reflection was noted by USA Today blogger Anne Oldenburg,
who also took stock of Jack LaLanne's last update on his website: "Hope
you all are keeping your New Year's Resolutions to taking care of the
most important person on this earth, YOU!!!!"
What He's Learned: In His Own WordsEsquire interviewed LaLanne in 2004, here's a snippet of what he told the magazine:
going to be ninety in September. Everybody else can have a piece of the
birthday cake, but not me. I have rules, and I follow 'em. No cake, no
pie, no candy, no ice cream! Haven't had any in seventy-five years. It
makes me feel great not eating birthday cake. That's the gift I give
Any stupid person can die. Dying's easy. Living's a pain in the butt.
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