As a very young child, I remember snippets of The Jack LaLanne Show. The show aired on television from the 1950s through the 1970s. I recall turning the knob on the television looking for my favorite cartoon and stumbling upon a man dressed in funny looking clothes doing jumping jacks as I chuckled in amusement. Of course I was a kid, and other than a few minutes of entertaining giggles, gymnastics was not something I was remotely interested in watching.
Little did I know that Jack LaLanne was the innovator of the fitness revolution. Indeed he was the original fitness guru, but he also was a man ahead of his times. In the Jack LaLanne Era, while sports may have been popular, most Americans watched them from their sofas while snacking on chips and gulping soft drinks. Fitness, exercise and nutrition weren’t fashionable back then, and gyms were non-existent. Perhaps here and there some people may have done a set of jumping jacks or pushups in their living rooms, but the majority didn’t. Granted, we didn’t know that poor nutrition and lack of exercise was linked to diseases like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart problems, stroke, gallstones, gout, certain forms of cancer and other related disorders, nor was the obesity rate staggering.
With the recent passing of Jack LaLanne at age 96, I began to wonder “What if Jack LaLanne was born in 1981?” First of all, he’d be 30 years old, in perfect health and the image of physical strength. I’d venture to say that his television show would be a hit, syndicated and viewed worldwide by millions. His belief that exercise and good nutrition creates stronger, smarter and better people would resonate with both the young and old. Having swam from Alcatraz Island handcuffed while towing a thousand pound boat was just one of the many feats he carried out. I can picture today’s youth mesmerized by LaLanne’s Superhero strength.
A man of wisdom, LaLanne said “With healthier citizens, we unburden society from sickness, and reduce the medical bills that are draining people’s savings and causing so much grief”. By following his philosophy, we may have been able to avoid the Health Care crisis we are currently facing. Our government wouldn’t be arguing over Health Care Reform, the controversial subject angering the majority of Americans.
Undoubtedly, there would be a 360 degree turn around from doctors advising their patients to stay from the nation’s first health & fitness club, a business totally unheard of, pioneered by LaLanne in 1936, for fear that it could cause severe health problems. Rather than the few hundred “Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas” that were eventually licensed to Bally’s Fitness, LaLanne’s gyms could have controlled and capitalized the entire fitness industry.
In retrospect, Jack LaLanne wasn’t born in 1981, but lived a long, industrious life, and will forever be remembered in the hearts and minds of many as the Father of the U.S. Fitness Movement.
As a person who knows what it’s like to reach out to people and help them change the way they look and feel, one thing is certain, if Jack LaLanne was here today, he would be proud of me for promoting life, health and prosperity, and my mission to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
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