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Posted at 11:11 PM ET, 01/23/2011

Jack LaLanne dies at 96; fitness guru shaped America's health-consciousness

By T. Rees Shapiro

Jack LaLanne, the energetic and charismatic fitness guru who helped define the nation's modern health-consciousness by inviting viewers of his exercise TV show to get off the couch and into shape, died Jan. 23.

To many Americans, Mr. LaLanne was the sculpted, handsome man on television encouraging viewers to lead healthier lives by learning that, "Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together, and you've got a kingdom."

His television program, "The Jack LaLanne Show," aired from 1951 to 1985 and featured Mr. LaLanne inviting those at home to exercise with him using whatever was on hand, be it a broomstick, a chair or a towel.

"Remember," Mr. LaLanne said, "it's never too late."

He often lectured about portion control, ("People are exceeding the feed limit.") and nutrition ("If man makes it, don't eat it," and "If it tastes good, spit it out!").

In the mid-1930s,Mr. LaLanne created what is considered one of the first health clubs in the country. It included a juice bar and health food store.

Mr. LaLanne enlisted the help of a blacksmith to build exercise equipment. Many of his designs have become standards in today's gyms including one of the first adjustable weight machines.

Mr. LaLanne said that working out was "a pain in the gluties. But you gotta do it. Dying is easy. Living is tough. I hate working out. Hate it. But I like the results."

At his peak condition, Mr. LaLanne once bragged that he held the world record in push-ups, claiming he could perform more than 1,000 in under 25 minutes.

As he aged, he continued to display feats of athleticism.
On his 70th birthday, he swam 1.5 miles handcuffed and shackled while towing 70 boats with 70 people aboard.

Mr. LaLanne, who died at age 96, once said: "I can't die. It would ruin my image."

The full obituary is here. Please leave your thoughts or memories of Mr. LaLanne below.

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By T. Rees Shapiro  | January 23, 2011; 11:11 PM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Exercise, Jack LaLanne  
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Comments

I watched Jack LaLanne on TV while I was growing up in the 1960s & 70s. He was always a hero to me, not simply for his physical fitness, but for his positive outlook on life that he wanted others to share. Whenever he would come on TV, I would call my children over to see him and I could tell them about him. You will be missed Jack!

Posted by: braunt | January 24, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Jack was a truth-teller. Whenever I think about what to have or make for a meal, he is always in the back of my mind. He told us not to eat anything that did not give us something back. In other words, go full throttle for the nutrients. And picking up weights and moving--it's so important! I can't choose the day that I die, but I want to be as healthy and energetic as I can be until that day. Jack LaLanne is the role model for healthy living. Thank you, Jack.

Posted by: bumper9949 | January 24, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Jack is my idol! RIP...

Posted by: 550iDC | January 24, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I was looking on youtube for some facial exercises to strengthen my muscles when I found Jacks clips, I do them everyday and if he says get up ...I do.
Jacks not gone, he is walking in millions of healthy bodies today, thanks mate. RIP

Posted by: hotdogzman | January 25, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

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