LaLanne still a leg up on fitness
By: Barbara Giasone, The Orange County Register
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Agile and upbeat, fitness fanatic Jack LaLanne is still tossing lifelines to those he says are “exceeding the feed limit.”
His advice has outlived diet and exercise fads promoted long before America was declared an obese nation.
Remember, he’s the guy who, at age 60, swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf towing a 1,000-pound boat. Ten years later, he wore handcuffs while pulling 70 boats with 70 people in them 1.5 miles in Long Beach Harbor.
OK, maybe his biceps don’t bulge as much today.
But at 94, who’s measuring?
LaLanne and his wife of 54 years, Elaine, traveled from their Morro Bay, Calif., home to Fullerton College this month to motivate the staff to stress a healthy lifestyle in the classroom.
Meeting first in an administrative office, the guests were greeted by balloon hobbyist Jack Mattson’s blow-up rendition of the legendary bodybuilder.
“Holy cripes,” said LaLanne, squeezing the pumped up balloons. “These muscles are soft. He’s got to put on a lot more weight. But he looks a heck of a lot better than I do.”
That’s debatable when you learn the 5-foot-5, 150-pound nonagenarian still exercises twice a day in his home gym and swims a half hour daily.
“I tell people, in the morning Jack rolls out of bed, and I roll over,” Elaine LaLanne interrupted.
The couple enjoys throwing their wit around, but at the same time they are dead serious about keeping humanity fit.
For the most part, it’s Jack LaLanne who takes control of a room, soliciting questions, and then diving into his litany for life.
He subscribes to a daily breakfast of four egg whites with three pieces of fruit. The whole egg, he says, is 70 calories; the egg white is 15 and holds all the protein.
He only eats at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. with no between-meal snacking.
And his juicer regimen has survived seven decades from the time he had to use a press type for ground-up fruits and vegetables to today’s version with a high-output induction motor still sold at major department stores.
“People should exercise a half hour, three times a week,” LaLanne said. “And when you work out, don’t take a rest.”
He changes his routine every 30 days to avoid monotony.
“For one month, exercise real fast, and then the next month slow down,” he said.
It’s hard to imagine the San Francisco Bay-area native was a sickly child with acne, headaches and an uncontrollable temper. His mother sculpted a “sugarholic” when she regularly rubbed her toddler’s teeth with a blend of cornstarch and sugar to keep him happy.
At age 15, LaLanne met a lecturer, Paul Bragg, who would change the teenager’s devil-may-care lifestyle.
The gangly kid learned that the food one eats does the walking and talking for life, that exercise increases circulation to the brain.
LaLanne went on to devise some of the nation’s first health equipment, to open the first health studio and to stay a course of helping others “obey the laws of nature.”
In his hourlong talk to the college staff, LaLanne said it is sad many schools are eliminating physical education classes.
“Every high-end hotel has a gym; P.E. should be compulsory in the schools,” he said, drawing the attention of campus athletic trainer Scott Giles. The instructor said he has gone back to teaching the same basic weight-bearing exercises LaLanne initiated years ago.