Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Monday, January 24, 2011

Remembering Jack Lalanne (1914-2011)

From Yahoo! News:

LOS ANGELES – Jack LaLanne was prodding Americans to get off their couches and into the gym decades before it was cool. And he was still pumping iron and pushing fruits and vegetables decades past most Americans' retirement age.

The fitness fanatic ate well and exercised — and made it his mission to make sure everyone did the same — right up to the end at age 96, friends and family said.

LaLanne died Sunday at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, longtime agent Rick Hersh said. The cause was respiratory failure due to pneumonia.

"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, LaLanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.

Just before he had heart valve surgery in 2009 at age 95, Jack LaLanne told his family that dying would wreck his image, his publicist Ariel Hankin said at the time.

"He was amazing," said 87-year-old former "Price is Right" host Bob Barker, who credited LaLanne's encouragement with helping him to start exercising often.

"He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness," Barker told The Associated Press on Sunday. "I saw him in about 2007 and he still looked remarkably good. He still looked like the same enthusiastic guy that he always was."

LaLanne credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform others' lives, too.

"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," LaLanne said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."

His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the '70s. LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.

He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and in recent years touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.

When he turned 43 in 1957, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on the "You Asked For It" television show. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco — handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor.

He maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."

"I never think of my age, never," LaLanne said in 1990. "I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I'm just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They're more productive than they've ever been in their whole lives right now."

Fellow bodybuilder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger credited LaLanne with taking exercise out of the gymnasium and into living rooms.

"He laid the groundwork for others to have exercise programs, and now it has bloomed from that black and white program into a very colorful enterprise," Schwarzenegger said in 1990.

In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow and "muscle bound" and made a woman look masculine.

"You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights," he once said. "It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out.

"It was the same with women. Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer," LaLanne said.

The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.

The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.

"He got me so enthused," LaLanne said. "After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, 'Jack, you're a walking garbage can.'"

Soon after, LaLanne constructed a makeshift gym in his back yard. "I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs," he said.

He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.

"It's a lifestyle, it's something you do the rest of your life," LaLanne said. "How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.

This Day in History: January 24

1848 - James W. Marshall discovered a gold nugget at Sutter's Mill in northern California. The discovery led to the gold rush of '49.

1899 - Humphrey O’Sullivan patented the rubber heel.

1908 - In England, the first Boy Scout troop was organized by Robert Baden-Powell.

1916 - Conscription was introduced in Britain.

1922 - Christian K. Nelson patented the Eskimo Pie.

1924 - The Russian city of St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad. The name has since been changed back to St. Petersburg.

1930 - Primo Carnera made his American boxing debut by knocking out Big Boy Patterson in one minute, ten seconds of the opening round.

1935 - Krueger Brewing Company placed the first canned beer on sale in Richmond, VA.

1942 - "Abie’s Irish Rose" was first heard on NBC radio.

1943 - U.S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill concluded a wartime conference in Casablanca, Morocco.

1952 - Vincent Massey was the first Canadian to be appointed governor-general of Canada.

1955 - The rules committee of major league baseball announced a plan to strictly enforce the rule that required a pitcher to release the ball within 20 seconds after taking his position on the mound.

1964 - CBS-TV acquired the rights to televise the National Football League’s 1964-1965 regular season. The move cost CBS $14.1 million a year. The NFL stayed on CBS for 30 years.

1965 - Winston Churchill died at the age of 90.

1972 - The U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws that denied welfare benefits to people who had resided in a state for less than a year.

1978 - A nuclear-powered Soviet satellite plunged through Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated. The radioactive debris was scattered over parts of Canada's Northwest Territory.

1980 - The United States announced intentions to sell arms to China.

1985 - Penny Harrington became the first woman police chief of a major city. She assumed the duties as head of the Portland, Oregon, force of 940 officers and staff.

1986 - The Voyager 2 space probe flew past Uranus. The probe came within 50,679 miles of the seventh planet of the solar system.

1987 - In Lebanon, gunmen kidnapped educators Alann Steen, Jesse Turner, Robert Polhill and Mitheleshwar Singh. They were all later released.

1989 - Ted Bundy, the confessed serial killer, was put to death in Florida's electric chair for the 1978 kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.

1990 - Japan launched the first probe to be sent to the Moon since 1976. A small satellite was placed in lunar orbit.

1995 - The prosecution gave its opening statement at the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

1996 - Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy resigned due to allegations that he had spied for Moscow.

2000 - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law that limited the contributions that individuals could donate to a candidate during a single election.

2001 - In Colorado Springs, CO, Patrick Murphy Jr. and Donald Newbury were taken into custody after a 5-minute phone interview was granted with a TV station. They were the remaining fugitives of the "Texas 7."

2002 - The U.S. Congress began a hearing on the collapse of Enron Corp.

2002 - John Walker Lindh appeared in court for the first time concerning the charges that he conspired to kill Americans abroad and aided terrorist groups. Lindh had been taken into custody by U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.

2003 - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security began operations under Tom Ridge.

Marvelous Monday

Every popular band has its opus, and for the Goo Goo Dolls it was Iris. This late 90’s multi platinum release was alive with hits. Tight harmonies, intricate vocals, and a polished sound made it perfect pop album for its time. Still popular with music buffs around the globe, Iris is a masterpiece.

The single Slide from the album became one of its biggest hits. The story of a young couple grappling with the life changing development of becoming pregnant, facing parents, and each other, Slide is an infectious tune that keeps spinning in your mind long after you hear it. That guitar riff alone is worthy of a Grammy.

Slide is still played on radio everywhere. It’s almost impossible to escape it and one doesn’t really want to get away. Slide gives you a good feeling in spite of its message. You want the couple to run away together. You want her to “slide” into his room. You want them to have a happy ending.

Thought for Today

And I believe we need heroes, I believe we need certain people who we can measure our own shortcomings by. -- Richard Attenborough