Today is Jack LaLanne’s birthday and if you don’t know who he is, he is known as “the godfather of fitness.” He is 96 years old and remains a role model for health and fitness today. As a child, he was addicted to sugar and junk food like many kids are today. However, at the age of 15, he listened to a talk given by Paul Bragg (a pioneer in the health and wellness movement) about health and nutrition. The talk had a strong influence on him which led him to change his own diet and exercise habits.
He studied Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body and began weightlifting. He also became a bodybuilder and became well-known for his incredible acts of strength and endurance.
Health Clubs and Weight Machines
After graduating from high school, Jack attended the Oakland Chiropractic College in San Francisco and graduated with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He opened a health spa in 1936 and also designed the first leg extension machine, pulley machines using cables, the weight selectors that are now standard in the fitness industry, and is the inventor of the Smith machine. During the 1980’s, he had over 200 health spas which he licensed to Bally and are now Bally Total Fitness.
Jack also had a very successful television program called “The Jack LaLanne Show.” It was the longest running tv exercise program, starting in 1951 and ending in 1985. He continues to exercise every morning for 2 hours to include weight lifting, swimming or walking.
Jack LaLanne’s Nutrition Advice
One thing I always remember is his saying of “if man made it, don’t eat it.” He also advises, “if it tastes good, spit it out.” In other words, avoid processed foods and stick to whole, natural food. He is an advocate of a vegetarian diet but does consume some fish.
There are several of his television shows on YouTube that provide health and fitness advice that is still relevant today. Below are some great quotes from Jack LaLanne:
“By exercise. I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t always have to be on the go. I sit around a lot, I read a lot, and I do watch television. But I also work out for two hours every day of my life, even when I’m on the road.”
“I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline.”
“So many older people, they just sit around all day long and they don’t get any exercise. Their muscles atrophy, and they lose their strength, their energy and vitality by inactivity.”