Jack LaLanne dies at 96

Fitness icon Jack LaLanne, a man who pushed Americans to pump iron, eat better and lose weight for more than 70 years, has died. He was 96.
The so-called ‘godfather of fitness’ died of respiratory failure from pneumonia in his Morro Bay, Calif. home Sunday afternoon, his longtime agent Rick Hersh told The Associated Press.
LaLanne was a fitness pioneer, opening the first of his many exercise studios in 1936. He focused on weight-training at a time when the idea of pumping iron was strictly taboo, especially for women.
“You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights. It just wasn’t done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out” – he once said.
Athletic trainers believed bulking up would slow athletes down and women were supposed to look curvy and feminine, not athletic and toned.
“Back then, women weren’t supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer” – LaLanne said.

Jack LaLanne dies at 96
Jack LaLanne.

The amazing iron-pumper, who preached strength training and healthy eating long before it was fashionable, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California’s central coast. He was 96.
LaLanne, who was known for his jumpsuits as well as his muscles, showed off his abilities in stunts through the years, including towing boatloads of people in frigid sea water, and became known for striking a strongman pose, revealing his bulky biceps.
“What’s really fascinating is how far ahead of his time he really was” – John Eliot, an expert in the psychology of fitness and health, told USA TODAY in 2004. “At the time, coaches told [athletes] not to do weightlifting stuff because it was bad for them. It wasn’t until the late ’70s, when the Dallas Cowboys hired the first strength coach, that people paid real attention.”
The Jack LaLanne Show, which aired from 1951 to 1985, brought the fitness guru into homes. Often accompanied by his white German shepherd, Happy, LaLanne needed only a chair and towel to run through a routine and show housewives how to get fit. “Come on, now, girls. We’re going to work on” – he’d pat his rear – “reducing the old back porch.”

Jack LaLanne was prodding Americans to get off their couches and into the gym decades before it was cool. And he was still pumping iron and pushing fruits and vegetables decades past most Americans’ retirement age.
The fitness fanatic ate well and exercised – and made it his mission to make sure everyone did the same – right up to the end at age 96, friends and family said.
LaLanne died Sunday at his home in Morro Bay on California’s central coast, longtime agent Rick Hersh said. The cause was respiratory failure due to pneumonia.
“I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for” – Elaine LaLanne, LaLanne’s wife of 51 years and a frequent
partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.
Lalanne, who had heart valve surgery two years ago, maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that “I can’t afford to die. It would wreck my image.”

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