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.
Susan Campbell, MS, CSCS