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Jack LaLanne: Home Workouts Expert & Godfather of Fitness

by Susan · 50 comments

Jack LaLanne, Original Home Workouts Expert, Dies at Age 96

The “Godfather of Fitness” passed away on January 23rd at the age of 96 due to respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia.

Jack’s mission in life was to help people to help themselves feel better, look better, and live longer. Jack has motivated millions throughout his 70-year career to improve their lives by improving their health.

He is best known for his home workouts and nutrition show, “The Jack LaLanne Show”, which aired in the 1950′s, 60′s, and 70′s, and most recently for the Jack LaLanne juicer.

Jack was a long time raw foods enthusiast and vegetarian, later in life only eating fish as his main source of protein. He believed that what you put in your mouth directly affected how your body looked and functioned. Even back then he knew that eating poorly could directly lead to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Amazingly, Jack was credited for being the first to get women to workout with weights as well as convincing seniors that they need to exercise. Not small feats at all!

Here are a few quotes that Jack was best known for:

“Anything in life is possible if you make it happen.”

“Anything in life is possible and you can make it happen.”

“Your waistline is your lifeline.”

“Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.”

“Don’t exceed the feed limit.”

“The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow.”

“Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.”

“Better to wear out than rust out”

“Do – don’t stew.”

“People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.”

“First we inspire them, then we perspire them.”

“You eat everyday, you sleep everyday, and your body was made to exercise everyday.”

“Work at living and you don’t have to die tomorrow.”

“I can’t die, it would ruin my image.”

“If man makes it, don’t eat it.”

“If it tastes good, spit it out.”

“What’s it doing for me?”

“Your health account is like your bank account: The more you put in, the more you can take out.”

“If one apple is good, you wouldn’t eat 100.”

“It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts.”

“Make haste slowly.”

“Eat right and you can’t go wrong.”

“My top priority in life is my workout each day.” (My personal favorite)

His goal for “The Jack LaLanne Show” was to get housewives to exercise. When I went through some of the old videos of the show I thought they were so funny. More a sign of the times. He wore a (seemingly) one piece body suit with ballet slippers and used only a chair and his “Glamor Stretcher”, a stretchy tube of rubber similar to what we call resistance bands today, to exercise.

Take a look at this clip from an episode of “The Jack LaLanne Show”:

I also stumbled upon this gem of an interview with Jack from 5 years ago posted over at Share Guide.

Here is an exert from the interview where Jack discusses the benefits of exercise, it’s role in controlling aging, and how often and how intense you should be exercising.

Share Guide: You can’t leave your body behind at home.

Jack LaLanne: That’s what I am saying. You have to take care of your 640 muscles, and the number one thing is exercise. You can eat perfectly but if you don’t exercise, you cannot get by. There are so many health food nuts out there that eat nothing but natural foods but they don’t exercise and they look terrible. Then there are other people who exercise like a son-of-a-gun but eat a lot of junk. They look pretty good because the exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom!

Share Guide: So according to you, exercise is most important?

Jack LaLanne: Exercise IS number one! Think about it: the human body, how do you hurt it?

Share Guide: By not using it.

Jack LaLanne: Right! 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.

Share Guide: You are right. I have done a survey of Share Guide readers, and many more of them buy natural foods than exercise.

Jack LaLanne: That’s what I am saying. They think they are going to get it out of a bottle or a pill or food.

Share Guide: So people need to learn to make the time to exercise.

Jack LaLanne: Yes, exercise is the catalyst. That’s what makes everything happen: your digestion, your elimination, your sex life, your skin, hair, everything about you depends on circulation. And how do you increase circulation? 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.

Share Guide: In your most recent book, Revitalize Your Life, you talk about reversing the aging process.

Jack LaLanne: Absolutely. For example, take a guy that’s 60 years old and hasn’t exercised. Say you exercise him for 6 to 8 weeks–you can double his strength and double his endurance. Test after test has been done all over the world to prove this. They have even taken people in their 90′s and put them on a weight training program and doubled their strength and endurance. Just think what the younger people at 50, 60, 70 and 80 can do if they can do that with 90 year olds.

Share Guide: So you’re saying that even though we all are aging every day, exercise can counteract that?

Jack LaLanne: Absolutely. You can ward it off; you can prolong your life. I’ve outlived the age of maturity. I have showed my system works.

Share Guide: Many people who go to the gym only go three days a week rather than six or seven. What do you think about this?

Jack LaLanne: Three days is enough if it’s vigorous.

Share Guide: I go to the gym in the morning before work, around 7 am.

Jack LaLanne: Do you work with the weights?

Share Guide: Sometimes. I start with 30 minutes on the treadmill or stairmaster.

Jack LaLanne: Twelve to seventeen minutes is plenty on the treadmill–if it’s done fast. That’s all you need for cardiovascular benefit. You don’t need to spend that extra time unless you are over weight and you need to burn off extra calories.

Share Guide: How fast do I need to go on the treadmill?

Jack LaLanne: Do it vigorously, like somebody is chasing you. You’ve got to do it hard. Otherwise, if you just take it easy and do it longer, you are spending all that time when you don’t need it. Use that extra time with your weights instead. Focus on your problem zones, your strength, your energy, your flexibility and all the rest. Maybe your chest is flabby or your hips or waist need toning. Also, you should change your program every thirty days. That’s the key.

Share Guide: How important do you think it is to have a personal trainer?

Jack LaLanne: If it’s for the average person that doesn’t have any willpower, it’s important. For the person that is really progressing and they read up a lot and they have a lot of energy and discipline, they don’t need a trainer. It depends on the individual. I don’t need a trainer–I am my own trainer.

Share Guide: But someone that is just starting to go to the gym, they might want to get some training.

Jack LaLanne: Yes, just starting up it would be good to get a trainer for a couple of months. But not everyone can afford it. I know a lot of older people can’t manage that.

Share Guide: So you think that working out three times a week is enough if you are vigorous about it?

Jack LaLanne: If you are ambitious and you want to do more, then I would do 4 days. Exercise vigorously one day and rest the next.

Share Guide: On the alternate days when I am not at the gym, I do yoga or tai chi.Those are not as vigorous.

Jack LaLanne: No, but they help with coordination and increase the circulation.

Share Guide: Right, they make the energy flow, kind of like a meditation in motion.

Jack LaLanne: I say if you enjoy it, do it. Let me ask this: when you are at the gym, how long do you rest before you do the next exercise?

Share Guide: Generally I do two sets of 10-12 reps with a minute in between.

Jack LaLanne: That’s too long. I rest ten seconds between sets.

Share Guide: Two sets per exercise?

Jack LaLanne: That is the very minimum. I do 20 sets for deltoids, 20 sets for pecs, and 20 sets for lats. It’s important to change things around. Maybe for 30 days I might do ten reps with high weight, but the tenth rep should be to failure.

Share Guide: Meaning you can’t quite do it?

Jack LaLanne: That’s it. Then you build muscle and you build strength. Then for say 30 days I’ll cut the weight down a bit and do fifteen reps. Then maybe for 30 days I’ll add weight and do only 5 or 6 reps, then for another 30 days I’ll do everything really slow. Try that sometimes. Like you are doing a prayer. Eight counts to bring it up and eight counts to let it down. That is very hard, I’ll tell you! Then I’d do everything for a while real fast. You aren’t used to any of this so the body responds. Pretty soon the hips and knees start to go, doing the same thing day after day. I am also very high on pool exercises. I started doing exercises when I was 15 or 16 years old called Jack LaLanne Hydronastics. I worked every muscle of the body in the pool. It’s very effective.

Share Guide: I remember reading that you feel swimming is a very comprehensive exercise.

Jack LaLanne: Yes. You should do it against the clock. Say you are going to do 30 laps in 15 minutes. Then you try to do it each day a little faster. That is putting demands on the body, and that is how you build up. You keep up your energy instead of going downhill.

Jack LaLanne was an amazing man, who without his influence and teachings, fitness may not have been what it is today. The Godfather of Fitness and original Home Workouts Expert will be missed.

Your Coach,

Susan Campbell, MS, CSCS

{ 14 trackbacks }

January 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm
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January 24, 2011 at 10:16 pm
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Susan Campbell
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1 Aloys February 7, 2011 at 7:26 am

Although I am a lot younger than most of Jack’s fans, I know he was an inspiration to an entire generation and why not, to the world.
My friend’s mother used to watch his show in the 60s. She made exercise a priority in her life. Last year she was down hill skiing at age 77.
Talk about the power of example. Jack was a rare man who believed in what he was doing.

2 nazimwarriach February 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

I first ever read about Jack LaLanne and I think he was a great fitness expert of his time. His quotes are really awesome. But my most favorite is “Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips”
I will practice many of the sayings in my life.

3 Jason from Skyward February 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

What an inspiration for all of us.
“Ten seconds on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”
I need to keep that one on My lips.
thanks, great post Susan!

4 Doc@Spokane Chiropractor January 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm

He was a steadfast believer in staying healthy and it was really sad to hear about his passing, but he lived a long life by any standards and he remained healthy for most of it. A fine example to the rest of us about the importance of exercise and eating right.

5 Ali Mujtaba January 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

“Anything in life is possible if you make it happen.” – My personal favorite.
This was a great man, died at 96, most people do’t live that long, I think is a clear result of a healthy way of life. Pretty inspiring!

6 Rick Kaselj January 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

With the passing of Jack, the fitness community has come out.

I have never seen the fitness community talk so kindly about someone.

His videos and quotes always put a smile on my face.

Rick Kaselj of http://ExercisesForInjuries.com


7 Maria Pavel January 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Hi again Susan,

Yes, he really knew what he was doing 100%, I searched data about him on Google and read a few, I also saw some vids on YouTube, he was very smart. RIP Jackie.

8 Maria Pavel January 26, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Hello, this interview is way too cool. May God rest in peace Jack Lalanne, he looked really well and maintained his youthness using his own methods of fitness, very great. Like he said: ‘exercise is the catalyst’, I totally agree with this statement, exercise really is the catalyst, once you do the first step (to start exercising) the rest will come easier, start working and the results of your work will be worth and you will be very happy with the results. Thanks for sharing this interview, I really liked Jack, keep up the good work on writing great articles like this one. Have a great day, Maria.

9 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Thanks Maria, I thought the interview was too good to not share. He seemed to know years ago what some people in the fitness industry is only now figuring out. Yes, once you start to exercise, everything else sort of starts to fall into place. Thanks for commenting.

10 Amr Boghdady January 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

We will miss this Icon of American Fitness. I can remember watching him on the black and white TV as my mom joined him in our living room to get fit…

11 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Wow, Amr! Someone who actually remembers watching him live! Cool! I guess it worked though if your mom exercised with him in the living room! Thanks for sharing such a great memory!

12 Howard - Energia Fitness January 26, 2011 at 10:26 am

Hi Susan

Coming from the UK I had heard of Mr Lalanne but didn´t know much about his career but from your post he seemed like an incredible man. It really looks like he was well ahead of his time and I like the quotes you highlighted. An inspiration to us all.



13 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Hey Howard, I thought some of his quotes were awesome! Some we have heard before and others were sort of new to me. But I will continue to use some of them to help educate and motivate others myself! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

14 Anne Sales January 26, 2011 at 3:49 am

I didn’t know he’s the origin of “10 seconds on the lips a lifetime in the hips” This is my favourite slogan/antidote whenever I feel like eating chocs. :D

15 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hey Anne, yeah how’s that working out for you this week? HA! Unfortunately, it will take a lot more then a quote to get the chocolate out of my hand. Good thing I exercise! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

16 Anne Sales | Coupon Codes February 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Well, I don’t eat much chocolate anyway. I just love to look at them. But when I do give in to my cravings, I drink plenty of water to flush them down. I don’t like the after-taste staying in my mouth.

17 Bryan Thompson January 26, 2011 at 1:07 am

Susan, I saw this the other day. Was sad to see he died but WHAT AN INPACT!

I love this one: “People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.”

18 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Hey Bryan, I like that quote too. Funny thing, I think he was sort of just an old guy pushing a juicer to our generation. I’m not sure why, but his popularity seemed to fade off at some point. None the less, I think he has a ton of great lessons in those old black and whites! Thanks for leaving a great comment, Bryan!

19 Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana January 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Thanks so much for sharing Susan! This was one of the most comprehensive posts I saw on Jack. How sad to lose him but lots to remember.

20 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thanks a lot Suzanne. I was going to break it up into a series of posts but thought it might get more interest as a compilation of sorts. My favorite is that interview. Lots of good nuggets of reminders to keep things simple, exercise often, and eat clean for good health and optimal weight. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

21 Todd January 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Awesome post, Susan. I love how you touched on so many aspects of what Jack LaLanne taught. Nice work!

22 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thanks Todd, i tied to give him the best tribute I could on short notice. Next time someone passes away they should give me more notice…… :-)

23 Frank@HCGDiet January 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I really like the quote “If it tastes good, spit it out” I need to follow that more. It’s said when someone who has done so much for a community passes away. Thanks for sharing the interview with us.

24 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Hey Frank, agreed. Sad indeed. I was hoping he would live forever just to prove his point, but I guess living well until 96 will just have to show us all. Thanks for taking the time to read the post and to comment!

25 Steve@Internet Lifestyle January 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

A sad day,

Jack LaLane was quite an inspiration. He seemed to me to really be the first man to start the fitness craze and stage such good shape even into his old age. Really seem like one hell of a guy.

Thanks for sharing this great interview with him.

26 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Hey Steve, you are so right. I think he was the first fitness guy to get on TV and the feats of strength he did over the years (swimming a mile underwater towing boats filled with stuff) were unbelievable. I have had a great time reviewing some of his career highlights this week. Very inspirational. Thanks for taking the time to honor Jack, Steve!

27 Project Swole January 24, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Great interview. Thanks for reposting that. Jack turned some people off by being such an extremist, but he knew what he was talking about. I was going to write a quick post about this at my blog too, but it seems like everyone has covered Lalanne today. He was loved by all.

28 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I thought it was a great interview as well, Steve. I bow to the original Home Workouts Expert.

29 Greg January 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I love that first quote. Anything is possible if you make it happen.

Words to live by.

30 susan January 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Yup, all you have to do is – do it. Ha! Just do it! Do you think that’s where they came up with that slogan?

31 Dino Dogan January 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm

wow…you think some people will live forever, Jack was one such people. Great way to commemorate his life, thnx Susan.

32 susan January 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Hey Dino, I wanted him to live forever! I wanted people to know that his messages were real and not just some fitness myth put out there to make someone money. Sort of like how Dr. Atkins diet as a result of his own diet…….oooops did I say that out loud? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Jack, DIno!

33 Evelyn January 24, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hi Susan,

Thanks for this post.

I enjoyed all of the quotes.

Jack LaLane is an inspiration and will be missed.

Take care,


34 susan January 27, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Some awesome Jack Lalanne quotes, for sure, Evelyn! Glad you liked them!

35 Lean Muscle Matt January 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thanks for sharing Susan!

I really like the quote “Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.”

Jack truly paved the way for so many others. He firmly believed that fitness was the key to life, and that it was NEVER too late to start. His own life is a testament to the power if a fit and active lifestyle. He continued to lift weights until his death.

I believe he also invented the original model for what became the Smith Machine, as well as the leg extension machine!

Most of what we offer to the fitness community, we do so because Jack first gave it to us. :)


36 susan January 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Matt, you always leave the best comments! You are right about the leg extension……smart guy, knew more then most fitness experts know now!

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