RIP Jack LaLanne
In case you didn't know, Jack LaLanne died at the age of 96.
Jack LaLanne, the father of the modern fitness movement died Sunday, January 23, 2011 at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96. The cause of death was respiratory failure due to pneumonia. LaLanne spent more than 70 years preaching the power of strength training and healthy eating—long before either was popular.
In 1936, he opened the nation's first health club, a gym that doubled as both a juice bar and health food store, and became the prototype for future fitness spas. He reached the at-home crowd, too, hosting The Jack LaLanne Show, a TV workout program, from 1981 to 1983.
"People thought I was a charlatan and a nut," he once told The New York Times. "The doctors were against me—they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive."
When LaLanne was 40, he wanted to prove that he wasn't past his prime, so he swam the nearly 2-mile length of the Golden Gate Bridge without surfacing, breathing with the aid of two air tanks that weighed 140 pounds. At age 60, he swam 1.23 miles from San Francisco's Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf while handcuffed, with his legs shackled, and towing a 1,000-pound boat. Even as he entered his 90s, LaLanne began every day with a two-hour workout: weight lifting, and then swimming against an artificial current or in place, restrained by a belt.
The following are some of Jack Lalanne's notable fitness achievements.
1954 Age 40: Swam the length of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks¦ an undisputed world record.
1955 Age 41: Swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, CA.
1956 Age 42: Set a world record of 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes on You Asked for It, a TV Show with Art Baker.
1957 Age 43: Swam the treacherous Golden Gate Channel, towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. This involved fighting the cold, swift ocean currents that made the 1 mile swim a 6 ½ mile test of strength and endurance.
1958 Age 44: Maneuvered a paddleboard 30 miles, 9-½ hours non-stop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore.
1959 Age 45: Completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hours and 22 minutes and The Jack LaLanne Show goes nationwide
1974 Age 60: Swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
1975 Age 61: Swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
1976 Age 62: Commemorating the Spirit of ˜76, swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed, shackled and towing 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
1979 Age 65: Towed 65 boats filled with 6,500-pounds of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp while handcuffed and shackled in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan.
1980 Age 66: Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida filled with 77 people for over a mile in less than 1 hour.
1984 Age 70: Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen's Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1½ miles.
Lalanne was also married to the same woman (Elaine) for over 50 years! Yes, her name is Elaine Lalanne.
If you notice something about Jack. Most of his accomplishments happened when he was in his 40's and beyond. Nowadays, this is not so uncommon, but in the 50's and 60's it was literally unheard of. As a child I remember looking at him on TV thinking that guy is in his 60's and my dad in his 40's couldn't keep up with him.
Jack to me was more about fitness, he was about living life to the fullest. So many people physically peak in high school and then once they start working and start a family, physically, they're done. They're too. Too tired, too busy, too upset, too injured, too sick. Before you know it, they're 52 years old looking at 60 thinking, I'm about to be old.
My dad died at 66 from a massive heart attack. He was about 200 pounds overweight. Eat, drank and physically pushed himself. He was the kind of guy who would do nothing all week and then go out and do 12 hours worth of yard work and be shot for two weeks. My dad was a slave to his body. Sleep apnea, high blood pressure pills, and a heart condition, he would miss work frequently and was not able to participate in coaching like he did 10 years ago. My dad was a prisoner trapped in his body.
His story is not uncommon. How many people do you know who are stuck physically and mentally. If you live an 80 year old life and your best memories are from your teens and early 20's. You've got 60 years to be miserable. 60 years of excuses, 60 years of reasons why not, 60 years of being unsatisfied with the way you look and feel. 60 years of avoiding a mirror, 60 years of avoiding conflict, 60 years of being half the person you used to be. What kind of life is that?
Jack Lalanne represents what we all should strive for: living life to the fullest. At 42 I'm in better cardiovascular fitness than I was at my competitive peak. I'm also on my way to being stronger. I look at people in their 20's and 30's who are out of shape, tired and unhappy.
Listen, if you're not happy with yourself, you're not going to be happy. The money won't matter (it helps a little, but it doesn't really help), the toys won't matter. This is why marriages fail and people have mid-life crisis. When you hit your forties something happens, you start to evaluate. One of two things happen, you get really happy or really sad.
At the end of the day we want to look good, feel good and be able to provide for and protect the people around us. Jack Lalanne understood this. He was a man among men and today I'm sad but I owe a little something to the guy in the sating jumpsuit.
Damian Ross, CEO The Self Defense Company
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