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The "godfather of fitness," Jack LaLanne, is known for his 1950s TV fitness program and for his endorsement of a power juicer in 2002.
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Jack LaLanne was born on September 26, 1914, in San Francisco, California. As a teenager, he heard a nutritionist speak who left a lasting impression. Later in life, LaLanne opened the first U.S. fitness club and starred in the first exercise TV program.
Television personality, fitness pioneer and inventor Francois Henri LaLanne, better known as Jack LaLanne, was born on September 26, 1914, in San Francisco, California. Because of his strength and endurance, even in his 90s, LaLanne was often referred to as the "godfather of fitness." He was the first to open a health club in the United States and to have an exercise show on television.
As a child, he ate a lot of sugary foods and got into trouble at school. "I was a sugarholic and a junk food junkie! It made me weak and it made me mean," LaLanne later said. But he completely changed his life around after attending a lecture by a nutritionist as a teenager. LaLanne cut out sugar and other unhealthy foods from his diet and began exercising. The one-time problem child transformed into a top high school athlete, playing on his school's football and wrestling teams.
Unheard of at the time, LaLanne opened a health club in Oakland, California, in 1936. Some doctors reportedly advised their patients not to go to his gym and labeled him a health nut. LaLanne actively looked for customers, offering to help reshape their bodies. Encouraging people to do weight training, he even developed several fitness devices, including the first leg extension machine. His club also had a snack bar offering healthy foods as LaLanne advocated good nutrition as an important part of getting in shape. "Eat right and you can't go wrong," he once said. LaLanne eventually developed a chain of health clubs that he later sold to the Bally Entertainment Corporation.
In 1951, LaLanne was chosen by a health food company to host a local exercise show, which eventually went into national syndication. He led audiences through a series of exercises, dressed in what would be his trademark look, a tight-fitting blue jumpsuit that showed off his impressive physique. Known for his on-air quips, LaLanne offered a lot of advice to his audience, including the following comments: "your waistline is your lifeline", "ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips" and "people don't die of old age, they die of inactivity." Not only did he talk the talk about fitness, LaLanne definitely walked the walk, winning the Mr. America competition in 1955.
A superb salesman, LaLanne used stunts and other marketing tactics to draw attention to importance of fitness and to lure more viewers to his show. He swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater, carrying 140 pounds of equipment at the age of 40 in 1954. Making a world record, LaLanne did 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes in 1956. On the program itself, he used another successful ploy to entertain the audience. LaLanne had his dog Happy perform tricks while he did exercises.
For decades, LaLanne has followed a strict regime.
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