In memoriam: Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne, 96, leaves strong memories

Inspirational, and likely feisty and health-obsessed to the end, Jack LaLanne passed away Jan. 23, 2011, from respiratory failure, a complication of pneumonia, at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96.
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Inspirational, and likely feisty to the end, Jack LaLanne passed away Jan. 23, 2011, from respiratory failure, a complication of pneumonia, at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96.

For more than seven decades, LaLanne was responsible for bringing the message of fitness to the public. Long before it was popular to do so, he spread his evangelical exercise word on TV, radio and in speeches and appearances. He can be thanked for being one of the seeds of today’s industry and health/workout trend. Per his habit, he exercised and was a nut for eating healthy until his last days.

"Jack was an inspirational man, and Life Fitness is deeply saddened by this loss of such a motivational soul," said Chris Clawson, Life Fitness president, in a Jan. 24 statement. “Jack LaLanne had a commitment to exercise that was ahead of his time. We will be forever grateful to Jack for what he's done for fitness as an industry and for Life Fitness as a company."

In December 2009, LaLanne had heart valve surgery, but even then he had a quip, as reported in SNEWS®: “I can’t die. It would wreck my image.” In October 2009, he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry at its annual show in Chicago.

From a SNEWS report at that time:


At age 95 -- five decades after his TV show went national -- he's showing the years. His walk is a little slower, he leans on the lectern while talking, his hair is thinning, and his physique is leaner. But LaLanne still has the passion, the spirit, the drive -- and the tight pants and top that showed off a svelte figure.

And, of course, he also revealed a continued wicked, no-mincing-words humor:


"I just bought a new Corvette sports car," he said, greeted with a hearty laugh and loud applause from the audience. He paused and looked around the packed room.

"Hell, I'm not dead," he said with a smirk, adding that he puts high-quality gasoline into the high-quality car otherwise, "You put crap in, crap comes out."

Click here to see the full story about his October 2009 appearance.

--Therese Iknoian

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