If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to wake up too early on a Saturday morning, you’ve likely experienced the joy of being treated to an infomercial for a faboo Jack LaLanne Juicer.
LaLanne was to the mid-20th century what Richard Simmons was to the 1980s — sans the sassy leotard and puffy afro. His TV show brought the physical fitness craze into American homes for decades.
Sadly, Jack’s now selling his spiel of weight-lifting your way to a fitter life in that posh fitness club up in the sky. The sportsman died of respiratory failure at his home in Morro Bay, California on Sunday after a bout with pneumonia.
He was 96.
LaLanne’s son, Jon LaLanne, confirmed news of his passing to The New York Times over the weekend.
LaLanne got into working out as a teenager back in the 1930s and incorporated healthy eating into his daily regimen — but getting others to do the same thing would prove a difficult feat.
“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he once said. “The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.”
But in 1951 he started The Jack LaLanne Show in the San Francisco area. Featuring workouts complete with countless performing jumping jacks, pushups, and other aerobic exercises in his trademark jumpsuit, he pushed the benefits of eating healthy with boundless enthusiasm. By 1959, the show had gone national. It would remain on the air through the mid-1980s.
Jack exhibited uncommon strength even as he aged, packing just 150 pounds on his 5-foot-6 frame. At 60, LaLanne pulled a 1,000-pound boat as he swam the channel from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed and shackled. A decade later, in 1985, a handcuffed and shackled Jack used his bulk to drag 70 boats carrying 70 people 1 1/2 miles through Long Beach Harbor.
“I can’t die. It would ruin my image,” Jack was fond of saying.
LaLanne is survived by his wife Elaine, son Jon, and daughter Yvonne.
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