Fitness Pioneer Jack LaLanne Dead at 96

Jack LaLanne, the founder of the modern health and fitness movement, died Sunday at his home in Morro Bay. He was 96.

The muscle bound LaLanne, who began working out as a teenager, spent his life as an advocate for health and exercise. He is believed to have started America’s first health club in 1936. In the early 1950’s he became a television persona with “The Jack LaLanne Show,” an early morning fitness program. The show enjoyed a 34 year run, secured him a place in American cultural history, and earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The exuberant LaLanne was well suited for the spotlight. He was cheerful, handsome, and had a penchant for theatrics that make today’s celebrity antics seem tame. From The Wall Street Journal:

To generate publicity, Mr. LaLanne liked to celebrate his birthday with stunts like swimming from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to Alcatraz Island—a distance of a mile and a half—with his feet chained together and towing a rowboat carrying a half-ton of sand. Other stunts included doing a thousand push-ups in 23 minutes, and towing 13 boats carrying 76 people through Long Beach Harbor, to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial.

In honor of Mr. LaLane’s passing, this lazy little fishie is going to get up and take a walk.