Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jack LaLanne, wellness pioneer

At the start of the new year, many are motivated to start a fitness regimen. It can be difficult to adhere to a routine on the road, but Land Line’s February issue will feature a workout designed specifically for truckers to do in-cab. The magazine is now on the press and should be in the mail later this week.

Part of the inspiration for that article was a man who pioneered personal fitness. When the article – written by Staff Writer Charlie Morasch – was in the planning stages, we considered mentioning Jack LaLanne’s long life and dedication to staying fit. We even mulled some quotes from him we could have included in the article. In verifying those quotes, we found ourselves Googling his name and were amazed to read of his activities in his senior years.

Jack LaLanne died Sunday, Jan. 23, at age 96. My younger friends think of him as a slightly eccentric guy who did fitness stunts, but he truly was a fitness pioneer.

“The Jack LaLanne Show” inspired countless viewers – many of them women – to keep moving, eat right, and stay trim.

I remember my mother, Audrey, moving her chair into the living room and exercising faithfully with her buddy Jack LaLanne in the late ’50s and ’60s. As I recall, she wore capris just like Mary Tyler Moore and tennis shoes.

My mother remembers Jack’s wife, Elaine, helping him with exercises and joining him on his television show. As a young girl, I often joined my mother in front of the black-and-white console TV to do bends, leg lifts, jumping jacks and listen to Jack talk about nutrition and fitness.

My father was no slouch either. He was a research engineer and would come home to lace up his white tennis shoes before jogging and doing exercises – decades before it was fashionable.

My mother was motivated by Jack to lose weight after each pregnancy and to stay active. It may be partly due to him that she still hikes and remains her ideal weight.

“I really was a follower of him, and some of my friends were also,” she said. “We were all young mothers in Texas City,” she said. “He was amazing, and his wife was, too.”

Jack was often asked why he exercised throughout his life.

“I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline.”