Jack LaLanne talked-the-talk and walked-the-walk for more than 80 years. His mission was to help people help themselves and to teach that exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand. One of his most famous quotes is, “Exercise is king, nutrition is queen, put them together and you have a kingdom.” Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that, “Jack LaLanne was 30 years ahead of his time. He is truly the terminator of unhealthy living. He possesses the secret formula for the fountain of youth.” Simply stated, Jack LaLanne started the American fitness revolution.
I first met Jack LaLanne on an early November morning in 1968 on TV, while lying on the couch at my Aunt Ruth’s house. I have such a vivid memory of that day, being kept home from school because I had strep throat... I was 8 years old.
Jack LaLanne was larger than life and was called “The Godfather of Fitness.” As a youngster, his muscles, his abilities, and his fortitude mesmerized me. Our TV set allowed me to workout with him and to feel his encouragement like he was right there with me. Yes, he inspired me, along with millions of others. I picked up his gauntlet of challenge and pursued fitness as my daily way of life, fitness as my business, and fitness as my mission.
It was Jack’s inspiration, his lead, and his action that led to the development of the first modern health spa in 1936, the first nationally syndicated television show on exercise and nutrition, and the development of the leg extension, squat (now called the Smith machine) and weight selector machine. He also was the first to encourage athletes, women, the elderly, and physically challenged to train with weights. Jack’s focused pursuit of purpose and his undying belief in the power of a strong body helped propel exercise science and natural health.Jack practiced what he preached, as evidenced by his feats of strengths:
- Age 40: Swam the length of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 lbs. of equipment, including two air tanks (an undisputed world record).
- Age 45: Completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chin-ups in one hour and twenty-two minutes.
- Age 60: Swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, for a second time, handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
- 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.
- 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, 1 ½ miles.
- Academy of Body Building and Fitness Award (1992)
- State of California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Lifetime Achievement Award (1994)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award (1996)
- Spirit of Muscle Beach Award (1999)
- Star on Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame (2002)
- Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award (2005)
- Inducted into The National Fitness Hall of Fame (2005)
- Treasures of Los Angeles Award (2007)
- Lifetime Achievement Award from Muscle Beach (2007)
- Y.M.C.A. Impact Award (2007) Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry (2009)