Fitness guru Jack LaLanne dies at 96

By Katherine Klingseis,

Jack LaLanne, who is often referred to as “The Godfather of Fitness,” died Sunday, Jan. 23, from respiratory failure at the age of 96. During his lifetime, LaLanne gained popularity through preaching the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise.

As a child, LaLanne admitted to being addicted to sugar and junk food. However, his eating habits changed after listening to a lecture by Paul Bragg on health and nutrition. From that point, LaLanne began to focus heavily on his diet and exercise habits. Every day, he ate two meals and exercised for two hours, even when he was in his 90s.

In the 1930s, LaLanne became famous as a chiropractor and bodybuilder. He opened his first health spa in 1936, which is widely considered to be America’s first health club.

However, LaLanne’s popularity primarily stemmed from the fitness feats he accomplished, such as swimming from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf while handcuffed, and towing 70 rowboats one mile when he was 70 years-old.

LaLanne also invented several fitness machines still used today, such as leg extension machines, pulley machines using cables and weight selectors.

As an entertainment figure, LaLanne wrote several books and starred in several fitness videos. He also starred in “The Jack LaLanne Show,” the longest-running fitness television show: 34 years.

Although he is often remembered for his amazing fitness feats, LaLanne left a massive mark on the fitness industry. Today, LaLanne’s preaching of regular exercise and healthy eating echoes through gyms and nutritionists’ offices across the nation.

(Posted originally on on Jan. 25, 2011)

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