Healthy Living

Happy 100th Birthday, Jack LaLanne: Anything Is Possible, New Documentary, Will Commemorate The 'Godfather Of Fitness'

Elaine LaLanne
"Anything Is Possible," is a documentary that commemorates Jack LaLanne, the "Godfather of Fitness." Justin Caba

“He wanted to help people help themselves,” Elaine LaLanne told the audience gathered inside the Tribeca Film Center for a special preview of the upcoming “Anything Is Possible” — the documentary that commemorates her late husband Jack LaLanne.

To most people, LaLanne is known as the “Godfather of Fitness.” He was among the first to preach the benefits of exercise and nutrition in the late 1930s after both helped him overcome growing up "a weak and sick kid." Since a lot of his workouts focused on building muscles, his own staple jumpsuit giving way to his bodybuilder physique, doctors said LaLanne was nuts, that working out with weights would cause severe medical problems. Generally, he was written off as some kind-of evangelist that didn't know what he was talking about.

Despite this, LaLanne was given the green light to host a show called The Jack LaLanne Show. To date, it's the longest-running exercise program and, according to his son Jon LaLanne, 53, it was key in saving a rich nation from poor health. "Nobody was working out anymore," Jon told Medical Daily. "In the 50s, people were smoking and drinking and work was so important, but they weren't moving their body." 

Moving around was the foundation of LaLanne's show. He would spend his 15-minutes of airtime encouraging his audience to get off their couch, even enlisting the help of home furniture, like a chair. After "Anything is possible," LaLanne's favorite saying was, "Fitness is king, nutrition is queen, and when you put them together, you get a kingdom."

A huge component to LaLanne's nutrition ideals was juicing. Yep, LaLanne was also among the first to advocate the benefits of juicing raw fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. He was doing as early as the 50s, creating a power juicer in the process.

Jack LaLanne Fusion juicer Jack LaLanne's new-and-improved Fusion Juicer Justin Caba

It's this ahead-of-his-time philosophy that the documentary. LaLanne's wife, plus close friends Clint Eastwood, Lou Ferrigno and several celebrity trainers, get together to recall LaLanne's unmatched enthusiam for getting others fit and healthy, as well as take the audience around to the places LaLanne frequented. Each of his friends speaks to his lifelong achievements and how much of what we've come to know as the fitness industry today would not be possible without him.

The one aspect of his dad's life that Jon is particularly excited to see more of? His TV show. "Most people don’t know he was on TV for 35 years. He changed the mindset of the country — I saw it happen first hand," Jon said. "I find, people think my father is a juicer guy, [but] he was so much more than that. He had the first exercise show on network television and to this day, they have a course in public schools that teacher’s take for extra credit on the effects of exercise and brain function. I know this, because my friend’s wife is a teacher and she had to take the course."

Jon's father was famous, sure, but to him and his sister Yvonne, LaLanne was just "a dad who walked up and down the stairs on his hands at birthday parties." Which isn't to say he wasn't heavily influenced by his dad — he was. The thing he appreciated most was that his dad never forced anything on anyone (even after telling his son he didn't get enough exercise "from that surfing crap"). "When it’s forced, it’s not sincere," Jon said. "That person has to make that [lifestyle] choice. Then that choice will blossom into something that’s very, very solid."

LaLanne himself regularly switched up his routine, sometimes putting on handcuffs to break swimming records, but ultimately did everything in moderation. He told Jon he hated working out, but he knew it was good for him, physically and mentally, so he focused on the fact that the rewards outweigh the pain. "It’s not hard to change your life if you want to lose weight, you [just] have to make it your lifestyle," Jon said. "Make something painful into fun, or at least try to. I started out knowing nothing, and it took a lot of pain and aggravation to learn the skills that I acquired. You don’t learn if you don’t make mistakes."

LaLanne's documentary will be available to view online Wednesday, Oct. 8th, at www.fusionlifebrands.com/jacklalanne100.

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