Jack LaLanne: Godfather of Fitness

This post was inspired by Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On, who earlier today wrote a post about the workout of University of Michigan football player, Ronnie Bell.

To stay in shape, the Michigan receiver would go outside … and push his family’s Chevy Tahoe around the block. “I’ve been pushing the cars with my little brothers,” Bell told MGoBlue’s Ed Kengerski. “We’ll take the car outside and put it in neutral and just push it around the neighborhood. “They push the little Lexus and I push the Chevy Tahoe.”

As soon as I read it, I was reminded of the incredible feats of strength and fitness by Jack LaLanne.

Here’s a sampling of his accomplishments:

1955 Age 41: Swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA.

1956 Age 42: Set a world record of 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes on “You Asked for It, a TV Show with Art Baker. (He could also he could do one-armed fingertip pushups while in a completely stretched out position.)

1957 Age 43: Swam the treacherous Golden Gate Channel, towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. This involved fighting the cold, swift ocean currents that made the 1 mile swim a 6 ½ mile test of strength and endurance.

1959 Age 45: Completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour and 22 minutes. “Happy” (Jack’s dog)is born and The Jack LaLanne Show goes nationwide

1974 Age 60: Swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

1984 Age 70: Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.

Jack is also known for having designed several fitness machines and a juicing machine, as well as for hosting the longest-running fitness show on TV – 34 years.

He was also a fanatic about his exercise routine. Here are a few of the habits that Jack did every single day for decades…

  • Lift weights and do strength training for 90 minutes.
  • Swim or run for 30 minutes (in addition to his strength training).
  • Eat 10 raw vegetables and 5 fruits. He had a basic rule – do not eat anything that is man-made.
  • Eat two meals: a late breakfast and an early dinner.
  • No dairy, no coffee, no refined sugar, no flour.
  • Wake up at 4am (in his later years, LaLanne “slept in” until 5am).

Even at age 94, LaLanne was still exercising for two hours every day. 90 minutes of strength training. 30 minutes of swimming or walking. 10 raw vegetables. Every. Single. Day. For 60 years.

That is commitment. And we can see the results of such commitment.

I vaguely remember watching his exercise show a couple of times and dismissing him because of his workout attire (shown above). Little did I know what a model of strength and fitness he was.

If only I had started following his routine 40 years ago, just think what I’d be capable of today…

*image from Hollywoodland

68 thoughts on “Jack LaLanne: Godfather of Fitness

    1. It is pretty impressive.

      Check out David Goggins for a true legendary mindset.

      I’ve writteb about him a bit on my blog, the guy is an inspiration to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Jack LaLanne was truly a wonder. l followed some of his workouts as a kid. He was always super positive and super enthusiastic as I recall. Loved his doggie too. A german shepard I think. My most recent exercise guru is Gilad who has been on TV off and on since the 80s. Gilad had LaLanne as a guest on his show. Thanks for the reminder we can stay in shape as we age.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Gilad did his shows in outdoor venues from Hawaii. The settings were stunning. I stopped by his office in Honolulu during a Hawaii trip. He has an amazing dedication to fitness and health although I don’t know if Gilad ever matched any of LaLanne’s feats of strength and endurance.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I admire his passion and commitment. I remember my mom doing exercises with Jack LaLanne regularly when his show was on television. Those feats are all amazing. I know how cold that water is from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. you’d be hard pressed to find people in their 20s who could do what he was doing at 70. It also reminded me of Dan Gable, the wrestler. Not sure if he was before your time. He was another fanatic about working out, and it paid off.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thirteen when he wrestled in the Olympics in 1972. I just looked him up on Wikipedia and read that his college career was 117-1 and was a two-time national champion. (He lost his last college match.) Undeterred, he went on to wrestle in the Olympics. He earned a gold medal, winning each match (three pins and three on points) without giving up a point. He then went on to excel as a college coach at his alma mater, Iowa State, winning fifteen national championships over twenty-one years.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. he also went undefeated in high school. I can’t imagine how awful that must have felt to lose his final match.

        perhaps what impresses me the most about Dan that he allegedly worked out seven hours a day, seven days a week, in the 10 years leading up to the Olympics…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. He sounds a lot like you, Jim—a real iron man! Now, what are you going to say if we find out he’s been blogging every day for the last ten years? He doesn’t know what he’s up against.😎

        Liked by 1 person

  3. i remember this on our tv growing up, my mom would turn it on and often head back to the kitchen. i don’t know how effective that was for her, but i remember being fascinated by him. thanks for the shout out -)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Remember watching him as a kid and the seeing a few of his “health spas” dotting the landscape. The ballet slippers were a fashion statement.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Yes Jim. I met Gilad and his office staff including cats. I sent an email before going. He was pleased to have fans drop by and I got a couple of selfies and purchased some T shirts as souvenirs 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While genetics certainly plays a big role in longevity, so does lifestyle. Sounds like you’re grandfather figured that out before a lot of other people did.


  6. My Grandmother used to watch his show every morning.
    I was quite young and didn’t give fitness a thought. I spent my life on my bicycle or running around the neighborhood. Outside most of the day.
    I only learned of his athletic feats over the past 10 yeas or so. He was a truly amazing man.
    Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Andy. I was the same way when I was little. I knew the name, but did not know of his incredible commitment to health and fitness and his amazing accomplishments until much later.


  7. Legendary workouts and hard pressing discipline.

    I love this grind lifestyle.

    David Goggins, someone worth googling. No one ove ever come across comes close to his discipline and endurance.

    I’ve explored how to build discipline a lot in my writing, it’s a hot topic for me.

    Very important and life changing 🤔

    I didn’t know about Jack, though, thanks for sharing 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  8. LOVED JACK AND ELAINE! He was my hero and I was too young at the time to realize how amazing he was at the time. He had a conviction and through his own struggles found a higher version of himself and held himself accountable and shared his gifts with the word. Loved his dog on the show and Elaine is amazing as is his daughter a chiropractor. Sadly, I missed his funeral that was most likely closed. He is one of my heroes and a mentor in the business that I aspire to and share his message with clients I work with. One of my 90 year old can do a 5 min plank. I think I blogged about Jack once or else wrote a piece about him one of my monthly newsletters. Thanks for bringing him back into my mind fore front and center.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. it’s nice to hear from a fellow admirer of Jack’s. He brought fitness and health to millions, and walked his talk. I wish you the best with your clients. And that is impressive for a 90-year old to do a 5-minute plank. Now I feel like I need to up my game!


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