Monday, January 24, 2011

Exercise in peace, Jack LaLanne

Fitness pioneer and healthy eating guru Jack LaLanne finally ran out of juice at the age of 96 yesterday. Didn't even make it onto a Smucker's jar. Guess all those push-ups and jumping jacks and abstaining from sugar and meat, alcohol and nicotine couldn't keep old age and pneumonia from claiming one of fitness's finest. Or else God wanted a new personal trainer.

I actually interviewed Jack LaLanne years ago, over the phone. He must have been in his 80s at the time. We had a great time chatting. Must have talked for nearly an hour. (As I recall, I was also abstaining from sugar and carbs and meat and alcohol at the time, for health reasons.) He even invited me to come visit him and Elaine (is Elaine LaLanne a great name or what?) in California. (I declined.)

And although many people are more familiar with Jack LaLanne as the feisty old king of the juicer, this is how I will always remember Jack (née François Henri):

Whenever I stayed with my maternal grandparents in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, we would always watch The Jack LaLanne Show in the morning, and do our exercises along with Jack. (Thinking about doing jumping jacks and push-ups with my grandparents, contemporaries of Jack LaLanne's who died many years ago, actually brings a tear to my eye.)

So in honor of you, Jack, I'm going to do an extra 25 jumping jacks and push-ups this morning. Exercise in peace.

Note: For more on Jack LaLanne, read this sweet obit on NPR by Tom Goldman.


Nanny G said...

Brings back many memories too. I joined his health club right after my first husband died along with my mother.

I would watch him when the “boys” were little. You have to be lucky to get to the Smucker’s Jar.

Have a great day and keep warm.

Kendor said...

Do you remember his German Shepherd "Happy"?

Jim Smith II said...

I think anyone like myself who grew up in the 70's remembers Jack (and doing the exercises right alongside..)

Nice write-up J, it must have been great to interview him!

Kendor - I do!