“I can’t afford to die, it will wreck my image!” Jack LaLanne.
Well Jack, death could never wreck your image. In January of 2011, fellow chiropractor and fitness enthusiast Jack LaLanne left this earth. I know the nickname godfather of fitness was most often associated with Jack LaLanne, but in my mind, along with Bernarr MacFadden and Angelo Siciliano better known as Charles Atlas, these three men made up the holy trinity of health. They were the founding fathers of the mass media fitness movement. However, unlike the founding fathers of our country who gathered at a hall in Philadelphia, these three great men spanned different eras, and Jack spanned the globe. Atlas and LaLanne both learned either directly or indirectly from MacFadden and each went on to have an impact on anyone who has ever broken a sweat in the name of fitness. Jack LaLanne was a bodybuilder and one of the original visitors of Muscle Beach. An unhealthy, sugar addicted child, he met MacFadden inspired Paul Bragg, and it was through Bragg that a young Jack was given the foundations to take control of his health. Jack used his newly found education and sought to inspire the world. If you have ever used a leg extension or smith machine — you have Jack to thank. If you are an athlete who utilizes weight training to excel in your chosen sport — you have Jack to thank. If you are a woman who enjoys the benefits of exercise and weight training, yep you guessed it — you have Jack to thank. Bernarr McFadden scowled, “Weakness is a Crime, Don’t be a criminal!” Charles Atlas promised, “To make a man out of you.” Jack, well, he came into our homes every morning and showed us that being fit and healthy was a goal unto itself. Before experts complicated exercise, Jack kept it all simple. Although he owned and endorsed health clubs, he showed us how to work out at home. While medicine was searching for a panacea in a pill, Jack knew that proper nutrition combined with exercise were the only keys to good health. He, through his longevity, demonstrated how easy it was to remain fit and live a healthy life. Dr. Jack LaLanne had a profound influence on me. It was his example I followed when I set up my simplified eating plan. It was his model I used when I designed my easy and effective exercise strategy. And, it was his inspiration I followed when I chose brevity and basics in writing this book. The last interview I saw was on his 95th birthday. He was spry, excited and as motivational as ever — he had a glint in his eye and a joy in his voice. I know it is unrealistic, but some people you just never expect to die, and in Jack’s case that wasn’t so far-fetched. His physical existence may have ceased, but because of every person who endeavors to improve their health via lifting a weight, jogging, swimming, doing a Jumping Jack, so named for him, or choosing a bowl of berries over a bowl of ice cream — Jack LaLanne will live on forever.