R.I.P. Jack LaLanne

Before Jane Fonda, before Buns of Steel, there was Jack LaLanne. My mother and her friends would pull up a chair (literally…he used a chair for many exercises), turn on the TV and “exercise with Jack LaLanne.” His practical, no-nonsense approach to fitness seems quaint now, but in retrospect makes a lot of sense. A few simple exercises done daily in front of the TV, requiring no special equipment or athletic ability would keep one toned and fit.

In the mid 1980’s when I was living in Morro Bay, he was a fixture in town, and would occasionally pop into the sushi bar there to pick up a huge order.  He’d smile and wave to everyone in the place and seemed to have boundless energy.  He was also rumored to enjoy a cocktail or five on occasion, but I have no immediate knowledge of that.

Jack LaLanne passed away on Sunday from pneumonia at the age of 96. 

Do you remember Jack LaLanne or his TV show?
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17 Comments

  1. January 26, 2011 / 12:46 pm

    Yes! I do remember the Jack LaLanne show. It was on TV as early as the 1950s and I watched it (along with my mother) on our black and white TV.

  2. January 26, 2011 / 1:07 pm

    Yep – we see Jack as an anachronism (with his jumpsuits, et al) now but at that time, he was revolutionary. He encouraged women to exercise, eat actual food, and horror of horrors, lift weights! He also was big on older people remaining active (he certainly was a role model for that) and his quality of life the last 30 years of his life is a goal that everyone should point toward. You can’t argue with success – what a life!

  3. January 26, 2011 / 1:36 pm

    When I was a little girl, I would often spend time with my grandparents. My grandmother, who was extremely bright and way ahead of her time, watched him all the time. I can remember standing in front of the tv and doing the exercised with her. I miss her.

  4. January 26, 2011 / 2:06 pm

    So, you DID know Jack 🙂

    That describes Mom and her friends too: exercising, watching what they ate and enjoying a cocktail, or…

  5. January 26, 2011 / 3:59 pm

    My father was a policeman with irregular hours so he was often home during the day. He was the one who watched and exercised along with Jack LaLanne. I still remember the clank made by the weight sets used in the 50’s and the long metal springs with handles that you stretched across your chest for resistance training. My French mother ignored the whole “fitness thing”. But now, at 88, having been a widow for almost 50 years, she got one of his juicers and became a huge fan of his.

  6. January 26, 2011 / 4:38 pm

    My mother who did not engage in formal exercise, she walked and gardened…watched him and would do finger and hand movements…I think it helped with her arthritis.

    He was an inspiration and way ahead of his time…96 is a good age to aspire to.

  7. January 26, 2011 / 5:59 pm

    I remember like you my mother doing exercises with Jack La Lanne. Boundless energy and, as you say, practicality about fitness as a way of life. Later I loved seeing the juicer infomercials and seeing how little he had changed despite age! Never seemed to take the quickie route about exercise or fitness, but all substance.

  8. January 26, 2011 / 6:38 pm

    Miss J remembers… her fave thing in this vid is the dog, just laying there.

  9. January 26, 2011 / 7:08 pm

    Oh my, rest in peace Jack! Like most women of a certain age, I remember Jack as being a man ahead of his time. He sure knew his audience and although he referred to them as “students”, they were his “girls”. Being fit is no secret – Jack was preaching it like it was and still is! The youtube clips are classic and I’ll go back to see more!

  10. January 26, 2011 / 8:46 pm

    Yes, I watched him with my mother as well. And he is the only fitness professional I have ever liked, or even been able to tolerate. I wonder whatever happened to Yami Yogurt?

  11. Jill Ann
    January 26, 2011 / 8:48 pm

    I am of the age that remembers Jack LaLanne’s show. I don’t know that my mom ever did any exercises, but I clearly remember seeing the show. Thinking about him and his long, healthy life reminds me about the importance of exercise and why I REALLY need to get with it. I have read a lot of books about brain science (my own personal nerd-fest) and I am completely convinced that I should be exercising consistently. Yet I can’t seem to actually DO it. Sigh.

    Since we were recommending books the other day, here’s one I can very highly recommend for women of a certain age: “Younger Next Year.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Younger-Next-Year-Women-Strong/dp/0761147748/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296074647&sr=8-1

    It isn’t a diet book, in fact talks very little about food, other than to say “Quit eating crap.” It does talk at great length about the necessity of exercise and maintaining social connections, something I think we all understand as important. It is co-written by a doctor and his patient…what I wouldn’t give to find a doctor like that! Oh, and there’s a men’s version for your significant others.

  12. La Belette Rouge
    January 26, 2011 / 2:32 pm

    I watched him with my mom. I loved it when he has German Shepherds on with him. Often when I exercise at home and LIly follows me around, I think of Jack and his dogs.

  13. Lorena
    January 26, 2011 / 5:00 pm

    I had no idea he passed away.
    Do not recall his shows, not even in re runs but I DO KNOW about his power JUICER infomercials…..

  14. Someone
    January 26, 2011 / 7:11 pm

    I do remember him on our black and white TV in the late 60s. Since I was a little kid at the time, I had no concept of what these exercises were supposed to mean so I was puzzled at shows like his and “Lilias, Yoga, and You.” A few years later in school we had to wiggle around to a 45 of “Chicken Fat” on the school lunchroom record player. 😛

    I appreciate Jack now though, who really showed the way to simple fitness a long time ago and seemed a voice of reason amid all the runaway insanity that the “health” industry became. For the last few decades I have also appreciated Margaret Richard, whose no-fuss approach is along similar lines.

  15. January 27, 2011 / 4:43 am

    It’s so strange being reminded of the odd thing from one’s childhood. I remember Jack being on the TV at times but I don’t recall anyone doing much exercise along with him. I think the ladies just liked watching him… He was well ahead of his time, and his re-runs would probably be a big hit now. Well, sort of…

  16. January 27, 2011 / 1:46 pm

    The history of physical fitness in the USA is interesting – back in the 50’s, fitness tests on US children showed they were below European children, who were more active. We have so much more knowledge of that nowadays, yet our progress seems to be going in the opposite direction, as some shool districts no longer offer physical education classes. http://www.loti.com/sixties_history/The_Eisenhower_Years.htm

  17. Terri
    January 28, 2011 / 5:08 am

    Yes, I remember. His passing occasioned quite a conversation at our house as both my husband and I recalled doing these exercises with our mothers. We both had to have been pre-school tots. He had come to seem immortal to me.

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