Published January 25, 2011
When I heard that Jack LaLanne had passed away I started watching his old exercise shows and it was hard to stop. -- It became obvious that if I followed his advice I could be stronger and live longer.
Anything in life is possible if you make it happen, he said.
And he proved it for 96 years with a pat on our backs and a kick in the rear. Housewives loved him, men emulated him and his simple message that if God didn’t make it, man shouldn’t eat it, helped make him an American legend.
He warned generations that they were killing themselves with the knife and fork, white flour and sugar, insecticides and pesticides long before it was the fashion.
Wearing a superhero jumpsuit, with his obedient dog Happy at his side and with as little as a kitchen chair and elastic cord he stretched and lifted and pumped his way into our American psyche and even our hearts.
Because what you saw was what you got.
So in Jack LaLanne we got to know the rare public man who lived what he preached and who was what he ate.
He made us shake our heads in amazement when at age 70 he swam a mile wearing shackles and towing one rowboat for every year of his life.
He made himself at home as our parents and grandparents mirrored his moves in front of the TV and were sustained by his uniquely optimistic American point of view —because anything is possible and nothing is impossible, that we should go seek out the impossible because it’s never too late. And never too late to improve ourselves.
As a little boy I was in awe of the message delivered by a man who was as wide as he was tall. That pride, discipline and truth were the DNA of human success and even long life.
You see he gave hope as an avatar of physical culture to the "pooped out" as he called them, the tired, the disappointed the nearly defeated.
He said when I get serious, I get very serious. When I live, I live for keeps. To you out there -- pull your gut in and straighten up!
Whether doing finger push ups or strange looking facial exercises, and preaching juice and vitamins for all, he used his unique physical strength not to boast or brag but to motivate and inspire. To promote hope and self confidence not despair and shame.
He never let us down and as a guest in our homes he never expressed disappointment -- even at our inability to meet his standards.
I met the great Jack LaLanne once and he said what he often said,” I can’t die. It would ruin my image.” It turns out it was the only thing he was ever wrong about.
Peter Johnson Jr. is a lawyer and Fox News legal analyst.