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Famous Fitness Fads

Jog your memory: Celebrities and fitness gurus who made exercise fun

Jack Lalanne, 1960s.

— CSU Archives/Everett Collection


Editor's Note: On Sunday, January 23, 2011, Jack LaLanne died at the age of 96.

Jane Fonda gets a lot of credit for bringing fitness and exercise into the mainstream, but Jack LaLanne was working out while Fonda was in diapers. And no, that’s not an exaggeration: The 96-year-old LaLanne opened his first health gym in California in 1936, and from there built a fitness empire — at one point his name adorned more than 200 fitness gyms (called Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas) around the country.

He was also a TV pioneer: His syndicated The Jack LaLanne Show was TV’s first regularly scheduled workout program. It ran from 1951 to 1985, giving LaLanne an astounding, Guinness World Record–setting 34-year nonstop run as host of a TV program. He flexed his muscles in the marketing realm as well, appearing in commercials hawking everything from exercise equipment to juicers. His fitness exploits led President John F. Kennedy to name him a founding member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1963. Forty-four years later, the same group presented LaLanne with a Lifetime Achievement Award. LaLanne is also a member of the National Fitness Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, LaLanne celebrated his 95th birthday with the release of the book Live Young Forever, which focuses on his longevity and offers advice on how to remain active as you age.

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