Monday, January 24, 2011

He Took Exercise Out of Gyms and Into Living Rooms‏

He Took Exercise Out of Gyms and Into Living Rooms‏
By Bill Hinburn

Fitness guru, Jack LaLanne died yesterday of pneumonia.
He was 96. A self proclaimed sugar addict as a kid, a by chance meeting with legendary health advocate, Paul Bragg, changed his life. Bragg told him, quite bluntly, “You’re a walking garbage can.” This statement evidently struck a nerve in young Jack.

He immediately went home and built a gym in his backyard where he began spending two hours everyday lifting weights and one hour swimming in a pool. Soon, he had neighborhood kids and even local police and firemen, join in with him. In 1936 he opened his first health studio that somewhat revolutionized the gym industry. He insisted on including athletes and women. Back then, coaches frowned on weightlifting.

And women, well, women just didn’t exercise, it wasn’t lady like. My how things have changed, and you can thank Jack for that! And, as one would guess, his studio thrived, so much so, that it grew into a chain across the country. I recall his physique on several magazines and articles relating his feats of strength endurance.

There are Pictures showing him hand-balancing with Les and Pudgy Stockton, Bert Goodrich, Vic Tanny, etc., were common in those days. In addition, he was oft times referred to as the “Endurance King”. I remember a story of how he cranked out over 1,000 dips! In 1957, on the “You Asked For It” television show, at the age of 43, he performed over 1,000 pushups in 23 minutes! At 60 years of age, while handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco! However, my best recollection of him, as a young kid in the 50’s, was his television show. From the 1950’s to the 70’s, I remember the beginning of his show...

You would see his familiar silhouette, in the background, dressed in a dark jump suit, doing, what else, “Jumping Jacks”! With nothing more than a chair and a towel, he would instruct his audience on how to do simple exercises to the rhythm of organ music. Sometimes his wife Elaine and Happy, his ever present K-9 companion, would join in. “Breath in, now breath out”, he would say. Between exercises, he would give advice on what that particular exercise would achieve, diet, tips, etc. He stressed the importance of raw fruits and vegetables while suggesting the use of his “Jack LaLanne Power Juicer”. He would end his show with a song and back to the Jumping Jacks.

To this day, every time I see or do a jumping jack I think of Jack LaLanne, “The Endurance King”, and his TV show. Until the next time, Yours for greater strength, Bill Hinbern P.S. “Inactivity is the killer, and, remember, it’s never too late.” - Jack LaLanne (1914 - 2011)

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