I grew up with Jack LaLanne. I used to watch him, his wife Elaine (yes, Elaine LaLanne), and his german shepherd Happy every morning on TV. Jack taught me a lot of things about life — especially to stay positive all the time.
Why be like Jack? You might know him from his juicer — but he was so much more.
1. Make a bold change.
At 15, he was a wreck — sickly, skinny, and eating all the wrong foods. He realized it was a dead end and radically changed his diet, behavior and focus.
2. Break the mold.
Up until Jack LaLanne, gyms were for men who wanted to box or wrestle. Jack opened the prototype for the fitness spas to come — a gym, juice bar and health food store.
3. Keep true to your vision (and yourself).
Jack said, “People thought I was a charlatan and a nut. The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.”
4. Think BIG.
Jack then took his idea national — “The Jack LaLanne Show” made its debut in 1951 as a local program in the San Francisco area, then went nationwide on daytime television in 1959.
5. Speak to your audience — all the time.
“My show was so personal, I made it feel like you and I were the only ones there. And I’d say: ‘Boys and girls, come here. Uncle Jack wants to tell you something. You go get Mother or Daddy, Grandmother, Grandfather, whoever is in the house. You go get them, and you make sure they exercise with me.’ ”
6. Keep it simple.
Most of his exercises on TV were done with a chair or broomstick.
7. Keep fresh with new ideas and offerings.
He invented the forerunners of modern exercise machines like leg-extension and pulley devices. He marketed a Power Juicer to blend raw vegetables and fruits and a Glamour Stretcher cord, and he sold exercise videos and fitness books.
8. Know when to get out.
Expanding on his television popularity, he opened dozens of fitness studios under his name, later licensing them to Bally.
9. Be a showoff.
At 60 he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat. At 70, handcuffed and shackled again, he towed 70 boats, carrying a total of 70 people, a mile and a half through Long Beach Harbor.
10. Walk the talk.
He ate two meals a day and shunned snacks. Breakfast, following his morning workout, usually included several hard-boiled egg whites, a cup of broth, oatmeal with soy milk and seasonal fruit. For dinner, a salad with raw vegetables and egg whites along with fish — often salmon — and a mixture of red and white wine. He never drank coffee.
11. Stay positive — all the time.
He brimmed with optimism and restated a host of aphorisms for an active and fit life. “I can’t die,” he most famously liked to say. “It would ruin my image.”
Jack passed away a few years ago at a ripe old age of 96. He brought a lot of energy, motivation and happiness to millions of people. I hope someday, I can do that too.