Fitness and Nutrition Expert Jack LaLanne Dead At 96

American fitness, exercise, and nutritional expert Jack LaLanne has died at 96 years of age. Francois Henri “Jack” LaLanne was born in San Francisco, California on September 26, 1914. As one of the first and most popular television personalities to host a fitness show, LaLanne popularized health and nutrition for many Americans. LaLanne’s health and fitness program “The Jack LaLanne Show” ran on television for 34 years from 1951–1985. LaLanne did the program until the age of 70. It is the longest running fitness program in television history.

LaLanne first became interested in health and fitness as a teenager. As a boy, he enjoyed sugar and junk food. However, in his teenage years, LaLanne began eating healthy and concentrated on bodybuilding and weightlifting. He blamed overly processed foods for many health problems and advocated a mostly vegetarian diet that included fish.

After graduating high school, LaLanne studied at Oakland Chiropractic College and obtained a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He subsequently opened a health spa/gym in Oakland and encouraged clients to improve their fitness through weight training. LaLanne designed the first leg extension machines, using pulleys and cables. This design is still very popular in the multi–illion dollar fitness industry today.

Mr. LaLanne became popular from his television show. In his show, he displayed many prodigious displays of strength. For example, in 1959 at age 45, he did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin–ups in an hour and 22 minutes. In 1980, at age 66, he towed 10 boats carrying a total of 77 people in North Miami, Florida. LaLanne towed the boats for over one mile in less than one hour.

Besides his television show and health clubs, LaLanne published several books and videos on fintess and nutrition, appeared in movies and other television shows, recorded a song with Connie Haines, and appeared as a motivational speaker. Mr. LaLanne also marketed two models of electric juicers, a range of vitamin supplements, and exercise equipment.

By the 1980s, Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas had more than 200 locations. He later licensed all this health clubs to the company now known as Bally Total Fitness. LaLanne has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2008, at age 94, LaLanne was inducted by then California Governor and fellow fitness enthusiast Arnold Schwarzennegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, into the California Hall of Fame.

Even in recent years, LaLanne has remained very active. He continued to work out every morning for two hours. He continued to advocate nutrition with one of his quotes being “if man made it, don’t eat it”. Mr. LaLanne died of respiratory failure from pneumonia at age 96 on January 23, 2011, at his home in Morro Bay, California, which is located 45 miles northwest of Santa Maria. Mr. LaLanne had a profound impact on America’s attitude and behavior with respect to fitness and nutrition.