27 January 11 RIP: Jack LaLanne - "Godfather of Fitness"On January 23, Jack LaLanne passed away at 96 years young. LaLanne was many things - a TV celebrity, an entrepreneur, a chiropractor, a world-record setter, an inventor and a juice fanatic. Chances are that most people today know him for starting a juicing craze in the 90s by marketing the "Juice Tiger" and "Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer." But he also hosted the longest-running television exercise program ever created, The Jack LaLanne Show, which aired for 34 years. And at 42, he set the world record for push-ups: 1,033 in 23 minutes! He also performed many incredible swimming feats around his home city of San Francisco.
In 1936, LaLanne opened his own gym/health spa in Oakland, California, and was one of the first professionals to encourage people to train with weights, including women (although many critics thought it would make women look too masculine). Doctors at the time thought that weight-training, in general, would cause people to have heart attacks and lose their sex drive. LaLanne never listened.
In fact, LaLanne went on to create some of the most well-known pieces of exercise equipment still found and used in gyms today. If you've ever done leg-extensions or used a pulley machine with cables and weight selectors, you owe a debt of sweat to Jack LaLanne. He also invented the first model of what became the Smith Machine, and on his 95th birthday he published a book, Live Young Forever, in which he discusses how he kept active and healthy in his advanced years.
LaLanne was very conscious of his diet and promoted a mostly vegetarian fare that included fish. He often criticized the "average" high-fat American diet because he felt people ate foods for which they did not know the calorie content or nutritional value. He was often quoted for his two simple rules of nutrition: "If man made it, don't eat it" and "If it tastes good, spit it out." LaLanne's opinions about coffee, food additives and drugs were that they masked the effects of malnutrition and if people ate more natural foods, their bodies would not crave these things.
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