“I can’t die, it would ruin my image.”– Jack LaLanne who died January 23, 2011 at the age of 96.
I was about 3 or 4 years old, my father was in college and my mother stayed at home with my baby brother and me. My mom was working on getting back on shape after the birth of my brother. Since gyms we almost unheard of in the early 70’s, especially for women, my brother was an infant, and even though I believed I could take care of him, my mother had the foresight to figure out how to exercise AT home while my brother napped.
Enter the man in the gray one piece suit with the belt. I remember watching Jack LaLanne on our black and white television, where he would use the kitchen chair and so would my mom. He would use cans from the kitchen and so did my mom. I remember a woman asking how she could keep the bottoms of her arms from “waving before she did.” I later learned that those were “triceps.”
Jack was the first person I remember talking about fitness and eating well. Soon came Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda, and now there is at least one entire channel devoted to fitness and perhaps dozens. I’m sorry to say that none of these people influenced my future career path.
He continued to make headlines here and there when on his various birthdays he would swim in open water towing and/or carrying weight, boats, people and sometimes be handcuffed while doing these activities.
As I was watching the shows with my mother, Jack was almost 60 years old. I had no idea that he was older than my grandparents, and nearly as old as my two great-grandmothers.
They say Jack was still exercising his usual two hours a day up until last week. The man was the epitome of fitness and a motivator. Even though he was goofy in his own way (my goodness, how many leisure suits did he have?), he was an inspiration to everyone, and even more so to those people who think they are too old to exercise, let alone exercise vigorously.