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Jack LaLanne, fitness guru, dies at 96

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Jack LaLanne, the seemingly eternal master of health and fitness who first popularized the idea that Americans should work out and eat right to retain youthfulness and vigor, has died. He was 96.

LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay, Calif., his agent, Rick Hersh, told the Associated Press

Though for many years dismissed as merely a "muscle man" — a notion fueled to some extent by his amazing feats of strength — LaLanne was the spiritual father of the health movement that blossomed into a national craze of weight rooms, exercise classes and fancy sports clubs.

LaLanne opened what is commonly believed to be the nation's first health club, in Oakland in 1936. In the 1950s, he launched an early-morning televised exercise program keyed to housewives. He designed many now-familiar exercise machines, including leg extension machines and cable-pulley weights. And he proposed the then-radical idea that women, the elderly and even the disabled should work out to retain strength.

Full of exuberance and hyperbolic good cheer, LaLanne saw himself as a combination of cheerleader, rescuer and savior. And if his enthusiasm had a religious fervor to it, well, so be it.

"Well it is. It is a religion with me," he told What Is Enlightenment, a magazine dedicated to awareness, in 1999. "It's a way of life. A religion is a way of life, isn't it?"

"Billy Graham was for the hereafter. I'm for the here and now," he told The Times when he was almost 92, employing his usual rapid-fire patter.

Our complete news obituary can be found here.

--Claudia Luther

Photo: Known for his exuberance and good cheer, LaLanne saw himself as a combination cheerleader, rescuer and savior.

 
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A visionary and a good man.

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.

Jack LaLanne -- DEAD.

was he the guy who used to sing with his alsatian at the end of the show?

RIP, Jack. You will be missed!

are you serious. la times? this is all that he gets? this man who started the fitness revolution that defines so much of LA culture gets 3 paragraphs while we had a week's worth of coverage of zsa zsa's leg?
we just said goodbye to a governor who was mr universe. jack lalanne started all of this. why didn't you have a obit to go for him?

A good guy and a good example of "practice what you preach"

Of course heaven for him might be a hereafter of armchair quarterbacking with endless wings and beer!

Oh Jack! you started it all.....I grew up with you....I remember you having a mens gym when none existed. Kudos to you. You will be missed....Get those Angels on a health and fitness program.

I met Jack LaLanne when I was 30 in 2000. He would have been about 85 then. He did a fitness demonstation with me and ran circles around me. He had the body, and more importantly spirit, of a 20-year-old. I aspire to live the happy, kind, quality life that Mr. LaLanne did. He is and shall always be an inspiration.

I met Jack in the company of another amazing nonagenerian, Art Linkletter. They were like two old friends picking at each other with good humor. Jack was funny, spry and amazing. What a pioneer. I hope there aren't any flabby angels in Heaven; Jack will kick their butts.

Godspeed, Mr. LaLanne.

You were my hero and an inspiration to millions. I can only hope to live a long healthy life as you did. RIP Jack. My heartfelt sympathy to Elaine.

I was sure he was immortal.

He was a great man. He walked the talk. Ironic that 3/4 of self indulgent couch potato Americans are obese after all the work he did. Still and all he was a beacon of common sense and dedication to physical fitness for those of us who paid attention and got the message.

He was the greatest! My Mother and I worked out along with
him on TV in the 70's. Condolences to his family. God Bless

A great man! God bless him. What exuberance. So, now I know, if I do everything right...I'll die at 96.

My condonlences to his family. He was an inspiration, and a genuine fellow. I was hoping to see him towing boats across San Francisco bay at age 130. But 96? Not bad, Jack!

One of the EXTRAORDINARY FEW, who actually PRACTICED, what he PREACHED....superbly done, Jack, as even us couch potatoes WILL, miss you and your wisdom.

Anyone know why he passed? Aside from being 96 years old.

Love you Jack. My first memories of Jack was watching him while my Mom worked out to his routines on TV. I always loved his spirit and his devotion to fitness and his beautiful wife. Thank You Jack. You will never be forgotten.

Another American icon of the 20th century passes, I hope I can honor Mr. LaLanne by living a healthy life. May he rest in peace.

Jack was ever full of exuberance. I remember him from over 50 years ago. He'd end his TV program singing to the tune of "O solo Mio": "It's time to leave you. Let's say goodbye. these precious moments just seem to fly. And here's my wish for you. May the good Lord bless and keep you, too." Jack was one of a kind and kept it up his entire life.

It's time to leave you, let's say good-bye
These precious moments, they seem to fly
Now here's my word to you
May the good Lord bless and keep you too.

Good-bye Mr. Lalanne--may the good Lord bless and keep you too.

I met Jack in 1995 at San Francisco's Marriot Hotel.

Strange how just this last week that I recalled Jack's workout partners'; Vince Gironda, Walt Baptiste and Steve Reeves.

I said to someone last Sunday that Jack is the only one left since he survived those partners.

They all competed in body building and made a living training countless people for so long.

Namely, Jack LaLane, Vince Gironda, Walt Baptiste and Steve Reeves appeared in many articles, magazines, and well-illustrated [photographed] books.

Not to mention interviews and movies longer than most other celebrities.

I would add that they knew how to build weight/exercise equipment for the body's top potential and design efficient gyms and classic fitness facilities.

There were a few people who were into physical fitness early on. My uncle is 94 and still goes skiing. He never over ate, and kept in good shape.

Did Jack LaLanne participated in any sports? besides weight lifting...

Some of my earliest memories are of my mom exercising in front of the television while watching Jack LaLanne. That was 1963. Jack was ahead of his times and so was my mom. Thank you for instilling a love of fitness and the value of good nutrition in my mother. She was successful in passing down these same values to her children. I am sure that Jack and my mom are doing jumping jacks in heaven right now.

I met Jack Lalanne at the old J. W. Robinson's department store in downtown L.A. when I worked there in the 70s. His wife, Elaine, was shopping for furniture and he was the typical man, following behind her and smiling. Very nice man.

 

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