He invented the jumping jack, the scourge of fat kids everywhere; he could sell you a juicer like no one's business; and he was the father of the modern health and fitness revolution. Legendary fitness guru Jack LaLanne died Sunday evening at the age of 96, succumbing to pneumonia.
One of his best quotes was "I can't die, it would ruin my reputation!" Somehow I think that living 96 years is pretty damn cool, so he shouldn't worry now.
The list of his feats is huge, and some are still unattainable, with most of them being achieved in the 1950s when he was just in his forties. In 1956 he did 1,000 push-ups in around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I have maybe done 500 in the past ten years.
In what everyone thought would be his "later" years, his sixties, he was still towing boats while swimming miles of expanse in deep water.
Few people have done as much as he did the past 11 decades to insure that Americans would be healthier, happier and live longer. Only people like Richard Simmons, the dude that invented P90X, Jane Fonda's spandex and that endless cast of late-night infomercial jocks that routinely wow us with glistening abs and tight buns can even come close.
But the thing about LaLanne that will always set him apart was that he wasn't just teaching you skills to look ripped or attractive, or trying to separate you from your money with faddish kitchen tools. He wanted you to be clear and sane.
He taught happiness, confidence and self-worth. I just ate two leftover Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees while I was writing this, and I feel like a million damned dollars. I am confident I can eat two more.
We compiled some of the best pep talks from LaLanne's television show, which ran from 1951 to 1985.
10. Don't Deal With Unhappy People
9. Stop Being So Tired "Poopedoutitis"
8. Don't Let Bad Habits Grind You Down
7. Time to Remodel
6. How to Be a Champion
4. Life Needs Incentives
3. Worrying Is Bad
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
2. Master the Supermarket
1. Life Is a Battlefield