Fitness guru and pioneer Jack LaLanne, whose daytime television show, gym chain, and juicing infomercials preached the gospel of healthy living to millions upon millions of Americans, has died of pneumonia at 96. LaLanne had been a physical freak for decades, and would perform amazing stunts to prove it. In his forties, for example, he completed 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes and swam the choppy, mile-long Golden Gate Channel while towing a 2,500-pound boat. And he never stopped. Well into retirement age, when “exercise” for most people means getting from the bed to the Rascal, LaLanne stayed active. Like, embarrassing-for-everyone-else active. Even in his nineties, he continued to work out two hours a day. “On the day of interview LaLanne said he swam for 30 minutes and lifted weights for 90 minutes,” Reuters reported in 2007.
Here he is at the age of 94, pumping iron and berating a much younger man for walking with insufficient vigor.
“There’s so much work to be done yet,” he says in the clip. “I can hardly wait for tomorrow to get doing something.” With every interview and newspaper profile, LaLanne, with that characteristic indefatigability, reminded us that, while we were fatter, lazier, and weaker than a geriatric nearing his hundredth birthday, we didn’t have to be.