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Fitness and Nutrition Legend Jack LaLanne

Readmikenow has written about various medical conditions. He has previously written a series of articles on Polyarteritis nodosa.

Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne

A Legend

Jack LaLanne was a pioneer in the field of promoting the benefits of exercise and nutrition to the general public. He opened the first modern health club in the United States in 1936 in Oakland, California. It had a juice bar and exercise equipment as well as a health food store. This eventually led to the development of a Jack LaLanne gym chain. It consisted of over 100 gyms across the country. He also marketed a highly popular juicer. LaLanne had a syndicated television show called The Jack LaLanne Show. It first started its national syndication in 1959 and was on the air for 34 years.

Jack LaLanne as young man

Jack LaLanne as young man

Early Years

On September 26, 1914, Francois Henri LaLanne was born in San Francisco, California. His parents were named John and Jean. They were French immigrants from Oloron-Sainte-Marie in France. LaLanne had two older brothers. One was named Ervil who died at the age of five. His other brother Norman gave him the nickname, “Jack.” His family moved to Bakersfield, California, and then to Berkeley, California. LaLanne was addicted to junk food and sugar as a young man. He had violent episodes and was miserable as a child. During this time, LaLanne had a bad temper but also suffered from bulimia and serious headaches. He dropped out of high school for a short time when he was 14 years old. When he was 15, LaLanne heard a lecture on health and nutrition by Paul Bragg, a well-known health food advocate, and fitness enthusiast. During this talk, Bragg spoke of the evils of meat and sugar. This lecture had a powerful influence on LaLanne and it changed the course of his life. He then began focusing his efforts on having good nutrition and regular exercise. LaLanne eventually went back to school and was on the school's football team. He then went to college in San Francisco and earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

Introduction to Weight Lifting

LaLanne noticed two men working out with weights in a back room of a building. He approached them. They told LaLanne they kept the weights locked up when they weren't using them. When LaLanne asked if he could use the weights, the men laughed at him. They doubted he could even lift them. LaLanne challenged them to a wrestling match. He said if he could beat them, they would have to give him the key to where the weights were kept. LaLanne beat both of the men and used the weights until he was able to purchase his own.

Jack LaLanne health club

Jack LaLanne health club

Health Clubs

LaLanne opened the nation’s first health and fitness club in Oakland, California in 1936. It was a place where LaLanne offered supervised exercise and weight training. He also provided nutrition advice. Doctors did not like LaLanne's fitness clubs. Many of them advised their patients to stay away from them. They warned that LaLanne's programs could make a person muscle-bound and result in serious medical problems. Some doctors said working with weights could give people heart attacks. LaLanne didn't give up, and by the 1980s, he had more than 200 European Health Spas. He would eventually license all of his health clubs to the Bally company.

Poster for Jack LaLanne show

Poster for Jack LaLanne show

Jack LaLanne Show

LaLanne had a fitness and exercise advice television show that ran for 34 years. The Jack LaLanne Show was the longest-running exercise program on television. The first show aired on September 28, 1953. It was initially a 15-minute local morning program that ran on ABC television's affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco. LaLanne promoted health and exercise along with his gym and certain health products. His show was syndicated nationally in 1959 and ran until 1985.

Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer

Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer

Power Juicer

LaLanne marketed a variety of vitamin supplements as well as exercise equipment and two models of juicers: the Juice Tiger and the Power Juicer. There are still five models of the Power Juicer sold today.


LaLanne blamed many health problems on over-processed foods. During most of his life, he was a vegetarian, but he did have fish sometimes in his evening meal. He was an advocate of a mostly meatless diet that included fish. LaLanne also took vitamin supplements. He did not drink coffee.

Jack LaLanne towing boats on his 70th birthday

Jack LaLanne towing boats on his 70th birthday

LaLanne's Accomplishments

Throughout his life, LaLanne performed feats of strength to showcase his high level of fitness:

  • 1954—At the age of 40, he swam the entire length of the Golden Gate in San Francisco underwater with air tanks. He went the entire 8,981-foot distance and set a world record.
  • 1974—At the age of 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf for the second time. He was handcuffed and also shackled as he towed a 1,000 lb boat.
  • 1984—At the age of 70, he swam and towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests on it, a mile from the Queen's Way Bridge in Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.
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Jack LaLanne's star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jack LaLanne's star on Hollywood Walk of Fame


Jack LaLanne was the recipient of several awards over the years:

  • 1992—He was given the Academy of BodyBuilding and Fitness Award.
  • 1994—LaLanne was awarded the State of California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 1996—He received the Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award.
  • 1999—LaLanne was given the Spirit of Muscle Beach Award.
  • 2002—He was given a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.
  • 2007—LaLanne was awarded the President's Council's Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2008—He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.
Jack LaLanne's grave marker

Jack LaLanne's grave marker


On January 23, 2011, LaLanne died at his home of respiratory failure due to pneumonia. He was 96 years old. LaLanne was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills in California.




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© 2021 Readmikenow


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 09, 2021:

RMN, your welcome.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 09, 2021:

RMN, I agree and you're wtelcome.

Readmikenow (author) on March 09, 2021:

Miebakagh, thanks. He is a real pioneer in the field of fitness and proper nutrition

Readmikenow (author) on March 09, 2021:

Bill, thanks. He did some impressive things in his 60s, 70s and even 80s.

Readmikenow (author) on March 09, 2021:

Dora, thanks. I can remember my mother getting one of his juicers.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 09, 2021:

LaLanne, is fitness. The doctors envy him because they do not want you and I well enough. I'm a fitness buff, and it's a pity that I heard laLanne late.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 09, 2021:

I remember him well and used to watch his television show. Very inspiring. I loved how he celebrated his birthdays with crazy athletic feats. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 09, 2021:

Thanks for these details on Jack LaLanne. I remember him and his juicer very well. His energy was contagious even through the sight and sound of him.

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