Tribute to "The Godfather of Fitness", Jack LaLanne

Sept. 26, 1914 - January 23, 2011


Born Francois Henri LaLanne, and known by many as "The Godfather of Fitness", Jack LaLanne passed away Sunday, January 23rd at 4:30pm due to complications from pneumonia.

In 1936, LaLanne opened the first "health club", LaLanne's Physical Culture Studio in Oakland, CA.  Although he had already gained some renown by that point, his views on exercise and diet were still not widely accepted.  In reference to that time, he was quoted as saying, "I was considered a crackpot.  The doctors used to say, 'Don't go to that Jack LaLanne, you'll get hemorrhoids, you won't get an erection, you women will look like men, you athletes will get muscle-bound' — this is what I had to go through."

Undaunted, LaLanne pursued his goal of spreading the gospel of healthy eating and physical exercise, "The crusade is never off my mind — the exercise I do, the food I eat, the thought I think — all this and how I can help make my profession better-respected. To me, this one thing — physical culture and nutrition — is the salvation of America."

Literally treating fitness like a religion, LaLanne, performed many feats of strength and endurance, like swimming in the icy waters between the Golden Gate bridge, while pulling over 60 boats, while handcuffed and shackled, while over 60 years old.  He considered these demonstrations to be vital in bringing attention to his cause, "I care more than — you cannot believe how much I care! I want to help somebody! Jesus, when he was on Earth, he was out there helping people, right? Why did he perform those miracles? To call attention to his profession. Why do you think I do these incredible feats ? To call attention to my profession!"

For all of his bravado and charisma, LaLanne was also deeply grounded in "helping" people rather than "changing" people.  When asked about the subject he remarked, "This bull about changing people — you never change people! Accept 'em, accept 'em, accept 'em!"

He also acknowledged that living a healthy life was not easy.  In addition to drinking nutritional shakes, made with all sorts of fruits and vegetables, that he admitted were "pretty revolting", he also woke up at 4:30am each day to exercise.  "With my personality," he said, "I could be a runaway, out with a different woman every night, drunk every night, eating and doing things that — well, you know, you've got it in you, we've all got it in us. But that's why you've got to take control!"

For all of us in today's modern Fitness Industry and for all of those whose lives we impact on a daily basis, "Thank you" Jack.


Be sure to visit Jack LaLanne's Website for more info about the man who made "fitness".

Jack LaLanne quotes sourced from LA Times Obituaries "Jack LaLanne dies at 96; spiritual father of U.S. fitness movement"
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About Tony Fed

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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