Decades before fitness began being promoted by celebrities like Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, LaLanne was already widely recognized for publicly preaching the health benefits of regular exercise and a good diet. He published numerous books on fitness and hosted a fitness television show between 1951 and 1985. As early as 1936, at age 21, he opened one of the nation’s first fitness gyms in Oakland, California, which became a prototype for dozens of similar gyms using his name.

LaLane Videos

One of his 1950s television exercise programs was aimed toward women, whom he also encouraged to join his health clubs.  He invented a number of exercise machines, including leg-extension and pulley devices. Besides producing his own series of videos, he coached the elderly and disabled to not forgo exercise, believing it would enable them to enhance their strength

Diet

LaLanne blamed overly processed foods for many health problems. He advocated a mostly meatless diet but which included fish, and took vitamin supplements. He ate two meals a day and avoided snacks. LaLanne said his two simple rules of nutrition are: “if man made it, don’t eat it”, and “if it tastes good, spit it out.” He offered his opinion of the average person’s diet:

“Look at the average American diet: ice cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, all this fat. People don’t realize how much of this stuff you get by the end of the day. High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating. Do you know how many calories are in butter and cheese and ice cream? Would you get your dog up in the morning for a cup of coffee and a donut? Probably millions of Americans got up this morning with a cup of coffee, a cigarette and a donut. No wonder they are sick and fouled up.”

Exercise

LaLanne receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 at Muscle Beach in Venice Beach, California.

When exercising, he worked out repetitively with weights until he experienced “muscle fatigue” in whatever muscle groups he was exercising, or when it became impossible for him to go on with a particular routine. “Training to failure” is now commonplace. LaLanne moved from exercise to exercise without stopping. To contradict critics who thought this would leave him tightly musclebound and uncoordinated, LaLanne liked to demonstrate one-handed balancing.

His home contained two gyms and a pool which he used daily. He also dismissed warmups, calling them “shtick” and “something else to sell”: “15 minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out there and eats the sucker.” He continued with his two-hour workouts into his 90s, which also included walking.

He often said, “I’d hate to die; it would ruin my image.” and “If I died, people would say ‘Oh look, Jack LaLanne died. He didn’t practice what he preached.'” When asked about sex, LaLanne had a standard joke, saying that despite their advanced age, he and his wife still made love almost every night: “Almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday…” He explained his reasons for exercising:

“I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don’t work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It’s my tranquilizer. It’s part of the way I tell the truth — and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years.”He also added “I know so many people in their 80s who have Alzheimer’s or are in a wheelchair or whatever. And I say to myself ‘I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to be a burden on my family. I need to live life. And I’d hate dying; it would ruin my image.'”

LaLanne summed up his philosophy about good nutrition and exercise:

“Living is a pain in the butt. Dying is easy. It’s like an athletic event. You’ve got to train for it. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to exercise. Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom.”
source Wikipedia
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