The fitness guru Jack LaLanne died at 96. We take a look at some of his superhuman feats.
One of the strangest things I can remember from my childhood was watching Jack LaLanne, then probably in his late 70s or early 80s, doing push-ups on some talk show. I couldn’t fathom the man’s athleticism at such an advanced age. My little mind thought, Who the fuck is this guy?
Our grandparents loved him, even if they were sitting in an easy chair, watching the telly, doing the exact opposite of what LaLanne preached his entire life.
He was one part Houdini, one part circus strong man, and America’s ambassador of fitness long before the Governator swore off marijuana, random sex and well-oiled muscles to become President Bush’s Chairmen of the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports.
We now celebrate some of the LaLanne’s feats.
1. In 1954, at the age of 40, LaLanne swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140lbs of weight fixed to his body (including two air tanks), setting an “undisputed” world record.
2. In 1955, at the age of 41, LaLanne said “Cuff me, motherfuckers!” and swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf—something that even desperate Alcatraz prisoners couldn’t do without dying from hypothermia or getting eaten by sharks.
3. In 1956, age 42, LaLanne shows up on Art Baker’s show “You Asked For It,” and proceeds to do 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes. Even when I was in Kempo-Goju Karate as a young chap, and forced to do push-ups on my knuckles, I could never dream of such a feat. No big deal for LaLanne, though.
4. In 1957, age 43, LaLanne tows a 2,500 cabin cruiser across the Golden Gate Channel. The ocean currents made what should have been a 1 mile swim, 6 1/2 miles.
5. In 1976, at age 65, LaLanne towed 65 boats carrying 6,500 pounds of Louisiana Pacific pulp while handcuffed and shackled near Tokyo.
6. He married a woman named Elaine, leaving her with the terrible but comical name Elaine LaLanne.
Although LaLanne seemed to have done them to satisfy his inner superhuman, he always claimed his efforts were to show that anything was possible if one undertook a strict diet and exercise regimen.
LaLanne later told Katie Couric, “If man made it, don’t eat it.” He loved his fruits and veggies, one piece work-out suits (that revealed his chest), and could often be seen selling his “Power Juicer” on television. The only problem, as I see it, is that LaLanne inadvertently gave birth to Richard Simmons and unleashed him on America. We are only now just recovering as a nation.
Do LaLanne proud and cure yourself of ‘pooped-out-itis’ and eat some vegetables.