We have a confession to make. Until his death at the age of 96 last week, the only thing we knew about Jack LaLanne was that he sold juicers. But as we've learned more about his rich body of work (no pun intended!), LaLanne has quickly become our new hero. We've been watching old videos of his show and reading great quotes like the one below. Sounds like something Michael Pollan might say, right?
But LaLanne was decades ahead of Pollan and most of the country. At the age of 15, he transformed himself from an angry, sick "sugarholic" and junk food addict by focusing on whole foods and physical fitness. He then went on to start a natural foods distribution company, open the nation's first modern health spa in 1936, and star in a 1950s television program that taught viewers, especially women, that they could be strong and healthy.
In one episode of his show, LaLanne implores viewers to replace their morning cigarette and doughnut with a nourishing breakfast of fresh fruit, high protein, and whole grains. It sounds like obvious advice today but LaLanne was on the forefront. He also spoke out against overly processed foods and artificial flavorings, and even became a vegetarian for six years (he later became a pescatarian).
LaLanne was clearly more than just "the juicer guy," and his legacy will continue to be felt for years to come. Fitness expert and television personality PJ Stahl says, "Jack Lalanne was one of the most influential pioneers of the fitness and nutrition industry and he is an inspiration to all of my work. His entrepreneurial skills and ability to to create new ideas that had never existed before drove his ability to reach the masses. Jack LaLanne set the platform for all health and fitness professionals."
It's definitely worth checking out LaLanne's website to learn more about this fascinating "Godfather of Fitness" — and to watch some of those great videos from the 1950s!
(Image: Still from Jack LaLanne – Sugarholics)