Featured photo for Jack Lalanne: a Healthy Role Model
Photo: Jack Lalanne Show

Jack Lalanne: a Healthy Role Model

Ok, I removed the post about “unhealthy role models” since I decided I want my website to continue to be about celebrating athletic achievements instead of denigrating them. In that vein, I thought I’d post something about a “healthy role model” instead. One that comes to mind is Jack LaLanne, still alive at 93 years young.

LaLanne is known as the Godfather of Fitness, and deservedly so. He is probably most famous not just for his health and fitness TV shows of the 50s and 60s, but also these incredible human feats:

  • 1954 (age 40): Jack swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks. A world record.
  • 1974 (age 60): For the second time, Jack swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound boat.
  • 1984 (age 70!): Once again handcuffed and shackled, Jack fought strong winds and currents as he swam 1.5 miles while towing 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.

Reputedly, even at 93 years of age, he still works out two hours each morning doing a combination of weights and pool workouts.

But what inspires me the most was his all-round attention to other aspects of healthy living. Some examples of this are below.

Diet: he would often say, “if man made it, don’t eat it.” And even back in 1953, he was telling us how we should minimize intake of “white sugar, candy, cake, ice cream, jams, jellies, cookies, pies, pastys [sic], most canned fruits, and soda pop”—good advice that, naturally, holds true today. Here’s a classic video dubbed “Sugarholics.”


Here’s a tribute to LaLanne’s 10-Point Self Improvement Plan (unfortunately Comedy Central took down the video of LaLanne’s actual plan):


Finally, here are some words of advice from Lalanne from just two months ago, on Labor Day 2007 at Venice Beach—more than 50 years after the above videos (when he was ~40). As you can see, he still looks great and sounds strong at 93 years of age. Amazing.


Jack really was ahead of his time, and it would not surprise me if he lives past 100!

Photos not created by Felix Wong may be subject to copyright.
Jack Lalanne in front of blackboard listing 11 things you should not eat
Photo: Jack Lalanne Show
Jack Lalanne gave some good advice about nutrition.