Jack LaLanne

by Dennis Mitchell

Jack LaLanne

Francolis Henrl LaLanne, better known as Jack LaLanne, was born an September 28, 1914, in San Francisco, California. His parents, Jennie and Jean LaLanne came to the United States from Oloron Sainte-Marie, France.  It was his older brother Norman who nicknamed him Jack.  He grew up in Bakerfield and Berkeley, California.  As a child he showed no indication that he would become a “Fitness Guru” or lead a healthy life.  As a youngster, he said that he was addicted to sugar and junk food, had a really bad temper, and was “A miserable goddam kid”.  He suffered from headaches and bulimia, and at the age of 14 dropped out of school.  The change in Jack’s life started at age 15 when he heard a lecture by Paul Bragg on health and nutrition.  He started working out and changed his diet.  He went back to school, and played football.  After high school he went to college and earned a degree of Doctor of Chiropractic.  In 1936 he opened his first health and fitness club in Oakland California, where he gave instructions on nutrition and exercising with weights.  This was quite radical at this time, as the medical profession felt that lifting weights would cause heart attacks and make you musclebound, and cause you to lose your sex drive.  He eventually had a chain of over 200 health clubs called The European Health Spas.  He later sold his clubs to another company and the name was changed to Bally Total Fitness.

Jack is credited with inventing the leg extension machine, pulley machines, weight selector equipment, and the forerunner of the Smith machine.  In the late 1930’s he had a short wrestling carrier.  Jack had a television program where he gave advice on exercise, diet, and healthy living.  The program lasted for 34 years.  He wrote several books, made exercise videos, sold vitamins and exercise equipment, and the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, which is still being sold.  Jack set many endurance records in swimming, push ups, and chin ups into is 70’s.  He continued his daily two hour workouts of lifting, walking and swimming into his 90’s.  Jack LaLanne passed away on January 23, 2011 at his home in Morro Bay California.   He was 96 years old.

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