On the beach in Santa Monica, a young Jack LaLanne is 3rd from the bottom. Harold Zinkin does a back bend, sustaining Deforrest “Moe” Most, that supports LaLanne, v Gene müller on top. LaLanne to be the spiritual father of the health and wellness movement the blossomed into a national craze of weight rooms, exercise classes and fancy sports clubs. (Harold Zinkin and also Bonnie Hearn)
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Known for his exuberance and great cheer, LaLanne witnessed himself as a mix cheerleader, rescuer and savior.

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LaLanne, with his hand and also foot chained, tows 76 youths in 13 boats for a mile throughout Long beach Harbor in 1976. He opened what is commonly believed to be the nation’s first health club, in Oakland, in 1936. (Los Angeles Times)
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The fitness expert, shown in 1980, to be born Sept. 26, 1914, and grew up in Bakersfield, whereby his parents moved to come to be sheep farmers. The family members later relocated to Oakland. LaLanne’s father passed away of a heart assault at period 50. (Associated Press)
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Elaine LaLanne, left, Jack and his TV co-host Lezlie Allyn lead guests and a TV audience with an exercise session in 1982. LaLanne started televised exercise programs in the 1950s. (Los Angeles Times)
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A pair of classics: Jack LaLanne flexes alongside a automobile at the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2002. (Los Angeles Times)
A memorial collection in 2004 for Joe Gold, bodybuilder and gym owner, in ~ the Del Rey Yacht society in Marina del Rey brought LaLanne in addition to Arnold Schwarzenegger, background. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
The fitness pioneer sought his passion through an almost religious zeal. “It is a religion with me,” he stated in 1999. (Maureen Donaldson / because that The Times)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes through LaLanne after ~ presenting him through a lifetime accomplishment award in ~ the finals the the Arnold standard bodybuilding challenge in Columbus, Ohio. (Jay LaPrete / linked Press)
At Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, the fitness experienced is on hand in 2005 as Gov. Schwarzenegger launches the Governor’s board of directors on physics Fitness and also Sports. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Micheal Clark, chief executive of the nationwide Academy of sporting activities Medicine, presents LaLanne through honorary certification together a an individual trainer in celebration of his 95th birthday. (National Academy of Sports medicine / PRNewsFoto)
Jack LaLanne, the seemingly eternal master of health and fitness who very first popularized the idea that Americans need to work out and also eat right to maintain youthfulness and vigor, died Sunday. He to be 96.

LaLanne passed away of respiratory failure because of pneumonia in ~ his residence in Morro Bay, Calif., his agent stack Hersh said. He had undergone heart valve surgery in December 2009.

FOR THE RECORD: Jack LaLanne: The obituary the fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne in the Jan. 24 LATExtra section, and a title accompanying the article online, reported that LaLanne opened up what is commonly thought to be the nation’s an initial health club, in Oakland in 1936. Bodybuilder Vic Tanny, who passed away in 1985, has actually been attributed with opening an previously professional gym, in the early 1930s in Rochester, N.Y. —

Though LaLanne to be for plenty of years dismissed as merely a “muscle man” — a notion sustained to some degree by his amazing accomplishments of stamin — he was the spiritual dad of the health movement the blossomed into a nationwide craze of load rooms, exercise classes and an intricate sports clubs.

LaLanne opened what is commonly believed to it is in the nation’s very first health club, in Oakland in 1936. In the 1950s, he released an early-morning televised exercise routine keyed to housewives. He designed many now-familiar practice machines, including leg expansion machines and cable-pulley weights. And also he propose the then-radical idea the women, the elderly and even the disabled must work out to maintain strength.

Full of exuberance and good cheer, LaLanne observed himself as a combination cheerleader, rescuer and also savior. And also if his enthusiasm had a religious fervor to it, well, so be it.


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“Well the is. That is a religious beliefs with me,” that told What Is Enlightenment, a magazine specialized to awareness, in 1999. “It’s a way of life. A religious beliefs is a way of life, no it?”

“Billy Graham was for the hereafter. I’m because that the here and now,” the told The Times once he was practically 92, use his normal rapid-fire patter.

Another time, the explained, “The crusade is never off my mind — the practice I do, the food i eat, the thought I think — all this and how i can assist make mine profession better-respected. Come me, this one point — physical society and nutrition — is the salvation of America.”

When he started, that knew that most civilization viewed him as a charlatan. That’s once he decided to do the stunts the made the famous.


“I had to get civilization believing in me,” he said.

He performed his an initial feat in 1954, when he to be 40 and also wanted to prove he wasn’t “over the hill.” the swam the length of the gold Gate bridge — underwater. (He lugged two waiting tanks.)

Other tasks in his 40s: swimming from Alcatraz to mountain Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf put on handcuffs; swim the gold Gate Channel when towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser; pulling a paddleboard 30 miles from the Farallon archipelago to the san Francisco shore.

At period 60, that upped the ante by swim from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s wharf in mountain Francisco, handcuffed and shackled and also towing a 1,000-pound boat.

The following year, he did a comparable feat underwater. And at period 70, the towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s way Bridge in lengthy Beach Harbor to the Queen mar — if handcuffed and shackled.

Why attempt together feats?

“I care an ext than — girlfriend cannot think how much I care! I want to help somebody!” LaLanne explained. “Jesus, as soon as he to be on Earth, the was the end there helping people, right? Why walk he perform those miracles? To call attention to his profession. Why carry out you think I do these incredible tasks ? To contact attention to my profession!”

(Italics were important in re-creating LaLanne’s speech — many writers quoting him also used plenty of exclamation points.)

Well into his so late 80s, LaLanne ongoing his an individual fitness regime of two hours a day — one hour of load training and another hour working out in the swimming pool — start at 5 or 5:30 in the morning (a concession to his age; in earlier days, he started at 4 a.m.).

No one — not even Arnold Schwarzenegger — could argue the LaLanne wasn’t the best. Schwarzenegger, that met LaLanne in the 1960s on Muscle beach on the Venice Boardwalk, stated LaLanne would try to check out who could enhance him in numbers of chin-ups and also push-ups.

“Nobody could,” Schwarzenegger told The Times. “No one also wanted to try.”

Francois Henri LaLanne (nicknamed Jack by his brother) to be born Sept. 26, 1914, in mountain Francisco to French immigrant parents; his father operated at the telephone firm and was a run instructor and also his mother, that was a maid, was a Seventh-Day Adventist, a faith that supporters “eight keys” to an excellent health, consisting of nutrition and exercise.

LaLanne flourished up in Bakersfield, whereby his parents had moved to come to be sheep farmers, yet the sheep contracted hoof-and-mouth disease, and the family moved come Oakland. LaLanne’s father passed away of a heart strike at age 50.

LaLanne often told the story of exactly how his mother spoiled him, offering him sweets together a reward. By the time he got to adolescence he had come to be a “sugarholic” v a violent temper and also suicidal thoughts.

But the was only the beginning: He was failing in school, his stomach to be upset, that wore glasses, the had damaging headaches, he was weak and skinny, he had pimples and also boils.

“I was demented! i was psychotic! the was like a fear movie!” LaLanne stated of this time the his life.

When he was 15, his distressed mom dragged him come a great on healthful living being offered by nutritionist Paul Bragg.

“We were a little late getting there and there to be no seats accessible so we started to leave,” LaLanne called What Is knowledge magazine’s Andrew Cohen, “and the lecturer observed us and also said, ‘Lady through the boy, us don’t rotate anybody away! Ushers, bring two seats and put them increase on the stage!’ ”

At some point, Bragg asked the young LaLanne what the had eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also LaLanne told him: “Cakes, pies, ice cream cream!”

“He said, ‘Jack, you are a walking rubbish can,’ ” LaLanne said.

But Bragg available salvation come LaLanne: He could be “born again” and also be the healthful and solid person he want to be — if he changed his ways.

“That’s what i wanted! I want to it is in an athlete, I wanted the girls to choose me, and I wanted to have the ability to get good grades in school, and this man said I might do every that,” LaLanne said.

LaLanne take it Bragg’s message completely to heart. And, through his very own testimony and that of everyone about him, he never had cake, pie, ice cream cream or any sweet from that day forward, nor did he drink a solitary cup the coffee or tea.

He likewise started functioning out through a passion and also was a star athlete because that the remainder of his high college years. Every his maladies disappeared; he even stopped wearing glasses.

“I to be a whole brand-new human being,” he said of this transformation. “I favored people, they preferred me. That was favor an exorcism, kicking the adversary outta me!”

After graduation from high school, LaLanne started his own business selling his mother’s healthful bread and also cookies. He also collection up a rudimentary gym and also started cultivate police officers and firefighters — “the fat and also skinny ones who couldn’t happen their physicals” — in exercise and also weightlifting.

“When I first started out, i was thought about a crackpot,” that said. “The doctors offered to say, ‘Don’t walk to that Jack LaLanne, you’ll gain hemorrhoids, you won’t obtain an erection, friend women will certainly look like men, girlfriend athletes will get muscle-bound’ — this is what I had actually to walk through.”

In 1936, he opened up his an initial real gym — LaLanne’s Physical society Studio in downtown Oakland.

But company was slow. LaLanne went to a regional high school and picked the end the skinniest and the fattest students, offering (with your parents’ permission) come “turn their lives around” the method his had actually been.

Word that his success spread, and business was an excellent enough for him to open other gyms. In 1952, he went ~ above TV, but since he could only afford time in the beforehand mornings, he discovered his audience was mainly young children. For this reason he gained a dog — Happy — to appeal come the kids, who were urged to walk wake up your mommies for a workout. The present was at some point syndicated nationwide and also ran for 34 years.

LaLanne met his wife, Elaine, who he called LaLa, in 1950 ~ above the collection of a local TV show, wherein she booked talent. She was at first unimpressed by the 5-foot-6 1/2-inch LaLanne — she ate a doughnut and blew tobacco smoke in his face. However she take it a closer look at him once a friend agreed to go out on a day with him. They to be married in 1959, and also she became an integral part of his business.

LaLanne’s organization interests would flourish to include a string of gyms throughout the united States, workout gadgets like the “Glamour Stretcher” and also “JLL Stepper,” vitamins, supplements and also several books.

By the time LaLanne remained in his late 80s, however, the organization consisted largely of juicers the he advertised top top infomercials and also his lectures.

LaLanne also knew as soon as to ago off. One interviewer defined him as “intensely unfussy for being together a fanatic.” and LaLanne as soon as said that one of his ideal friends to be a guy who “weighs around 300 pounds, drink a quart the booze a day and smokes choose a fiend. I’ll irradiate someone’s cigarette for them. This bull about changing people — friend never adjust people! expropriate ‘em, accept ‘em, expropriate ‘em!”

For himself, he seemed to live by a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I approach that required him to it is in hyper-vigilant.

“With my personality,” he said, “I can be a runaway, out with a different woman every night, drunk every night, eating and also doing things that — well, girlfriend know, you’ve acquired it in you, we’ve all obtained it in us. But that’s why you’ve gained to take it control!”

He had actually his pleasures — beautiful cars, singing, good wine and a long and happy marriage that he said was passionate after many decades.

He feel proud every time that fulfilled his promise to himself to never eat in between meals or eat sweets. While he was the very first to agree the his fluid meals — the the very least repulsive breakfast to be carrot juice, celery juice, part fruit, egg whites and also soybean — tasted pretty awful, he no mind. And also of his two-hour day-to-day workouts in ~ his residence gym, i m sorry he called his “cathedral,” that said: “I desire to see exactly how long I can keep this up. It’s kind of a macho thing, using me as an example.”

LaLanne maintained a high level of power well into what, because that the rest of us, would certainly be dotage. But his accomplishments tapered off after his 70th birthday. Although he speak of swim underwater come Catalina Island because that his 80th birthday, his wife endangered to divorce the if the did. “Let him rest on his laurels,” she said. The vowed to do the swim because that his 90th birthday in 2004, however when the date of birth rolled around, the told the mountain Jose Mercury News that he planned only to “tow mine wife throughout the bathtub.” His plans for his 100th were also tamer: “I’d like to have actually the best group I’ve ever had city hall me and lecture to them.”

LaLanne was offered a star ~ above Hollywood’s go of reputation in 2002, long after he had actually attained the respect he lengthy craved. Yet his biggest thrill to be to watch that what he had actually been preaching and advocating for an ext than 50 years to be being bring away seriously.

“Back then ns was a crackpot; today, i am an authority,” he claimed in 1998.

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Besides his wife, LaLanne is endured by Elaine’s son, Dan Doyle, of Los Angeles; LaLanne’s daughter by his first marriage, Yvonne, a chiropractor, the Walnut Creek; and the couple’s son, Jon, that Kauai, Hawaii.