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Monday, January 24, 2011

Jack Lalanne, RIP

As you've probably heard, Jack Lalanne, 96, died yesterday.

He was the heterosexual Richard Simmons, without all the issues. He looked almost as silly, in those curious short-sleeved shirts/long pants outfits he wore. But unlike Simmons, he was actually extremely fit himself. In 1956, at age 42, he set a world record by doing 1033 push ups in 22 minutes. In 1959, at age 45, he did 1000 jumping jacks and 1000 pull ups in an hour and 22 minutes on his TV show.

In later years, some of Lalanne's feats became a little gimmicky. In 1984, at age 70, while handcuffed and shackled and supposedly fighting strong winds and currents, he reportedly towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, for one mile in Long Beach Harbor.

In any case, Lalanne was always a good advertisement for the healthy lifestyle he recommended.

Lalanne became a health nut in 1929, at age 15, but even by the 1950's and 60's, when he started becoming well known, people regarded adult fitness fanatics ("body builders") as weirdos, somewhat akin to vegetarians or nudists.

Lalanne himself didn't come across weird, though he may have been a bit obsessive. He was always happy, and upbeat, and always had a quip at the ready. When asked about sex, Lalanne's standard reply was, "Despite our years, my wife and I make love almost every night: almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday..."

There was something so eager and innocent about Lalanne that it was hard not to like him. Lalanne was proud of his physique, and made no attempt to hide that pride. It may have been partly because he was short, but he always came across a little like a kid saying, "Look Ma, look how big my muscles got!"

I'm glad he lived as long as he did.


Anonymous said...

I remember seeing his exercise show when I was a girl. Good for him, living as long as he did. I imagine that he helped a lot of people in his lifetime.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Yes, back in his day he made exercise seem just a little less weird.