As I’m sure you all know, fitness icon Jack LaLanne died this weekend so , after a week of silence, TSD giving him the Friday psyche (again). As he passed I was a couple of hours south, working on the next great fitness program, P90X mc2 with Marcus Elliott, Tony Horton, Steve Holmsen, and the Beachbody production crew: Heather, Mason, and Anna. In addition, it was the day my wife had framed a signed poster that Jack had given me for my 5oth birthday. Serendipitously I think this means we’re the ones who are supposed to carry his torch.
“I couldn’t hold a candle to Jack LaLanne,” said Tony upon reading a text from someone saying it was up to him. “No one can,” was my reply. But maybe our entire group, together, will keep it going. We’re certainly going to try. Here’s part of my eulogy for Jack:
Jack, you lied. You said if you died it would ruin your image but now that you’re gone nothing has changed. You were THE fitness icon yesterday; you’re THE fitness icon today. Without you it’s impossible to say if there would even be a fitness industry. You started it, you grew it, your influence never waned and you are still its leader. I think it’s safe to say that your image is, and always will be, intact.
Jack LaLanne is my hero. I suppose that, if pressed, I have others but he’s the only one that I recognize. And even though one of his most famous sayings , “I can’t die, it would ruin my image,” is challenged by his passing it bears little merit on the validity of his life. Because Jack’s MO had nothing to do with dying, it had to do with living; getting the most out of the days you’re given. He was not above a bit of hyperbole if it drove his cause but was never more straightforward than when he said, “Billy Graham preaches about the hereafter. I preach the here and now.”
“My name’s Jack,” he told my friend Denis, who’d referred to him as Mr. LaLanne, with a look that clearly stated “save the mister for old people buddy.” He was 95. I only met him once but I felt like I knew him well. He was an open book when it came to what drove his existence. To all of us whose lives are a passionate pursuit of fitness he was simply The Man.
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pics: denis and i at jack’s 95th, my training log as it sat when i was in ca (of course it’s filled in now), and the poster that motivates me daily on the wall of my gym.