Fitness guru Jack LaLanne dead at 96

Jan. 23, 2011 at 11:32 PM
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MORRO BAY, Calif., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Jack LaLanne, whose TV show brought the physical fitness craze into Americans' homes for decades, died Sunday, his son said. He was 96.

The fitness guru's son, Dan Doyle, said LaLanne died of respiratory failure brought on by pneumonia at his home in Morro Bay, Calif., The New York Times reported.

LaLanne got into working out as a teenager and incorporated healthy eating into his regimen back in the 1930s.

"People thought I was a charlatan and a nut," he once said. "The doctors were against me -- they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive."

But in 1951 he started "The Jack LaLanne Show" in the San Francisco area and went national in 1959. He stayed on the air until the mid-1980s.

Along with countless performing jumping jacks, pushups and other aerobic exercises in his trademark jumpsuit, he pushed healthy eating. And always with boundless enthusiasm.

Even as he aged he exhibited uncommon strength despite packing just 150 pounds on his 5-foot-6 frame. At 60, he pulled a 1,000-pound boat as he swam the channel from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco -- handcuffed and shackled. He outdid himself a decade later, pulling 70 boats carrying 70 people 1 1/2 miles through Long Beach Harbor -- again handcuffed and shackled.

"I can't die," the Times said was his favorite saying. "It would ruin my image."

LaLanne is also survived by his wife Elaine, son Jon and daughter Yvonne.

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