You know, Jack LaLanne was right – you can do a fitness workout anywhere. LaLanne, who was the self described “sickly kid” who turned himself into one of the first health and fitness gurus, thus building a great brand, and business for himself along the way, was one of the earliest proprietors of getting up in the morning, and working out from the comforts of your home, first thing.
Plus, he started on television in an era where women thought nothing of smoking during pregnancy, and the three martini lunch was the norm de jour for many an American. This I remember because I had an uncle and an aunt, brother and sister, who adopted LaLanne’s philosophies about diet, exercise, and a healthy life style (not that they didn’t have their share of fun along the way, mind you). So, consider this: here was a television show, probably sandwiched between commercials for those healthful snacks that launched a generation of ADHD adults - Malto Meal, and Frosty O’s – that promoted using anything from a chair, to a footstool, to get a workout from home. This was a time before fitness centers, personal trainers, and gyms became a booming business. My uncle and aunt also read “Prevention” magazine, which advocated that, hey, maybe a more natural lifestyle, instead of always counting on the wonders of science, could help prevent certain diseases from occurring, or at least downplay your risk of getting them. Now, it makes sense, because that mindset is more prevalent – back then, hey, you were a kook, a wacko, someone not to be trusted for an “alternate lifestyle.”
As a kid, I remember the seemingly wee hours that the show would come on. Living with my aunt, she was pretty religious about watching the show, and doing the exercises. And it looked to be an almost over-the-top happy feeling show – I think that was Jack’s psychology there. I mean, you wouldn’t want your trainer to be on a perpetual bummer while you’re doing sixty squats at a 5:30 a.m. session, would you? Anyway, watching Jack’s show in snippets on YouTube confirms my memories – peppy organ music plays in the background as Jack leads you through a simple exercise on what looks like a living room set. See? There’s some grey matter at work there. And on occasion, Jack’s German Shepherd, Happy, would trot around the set, just having a wee of a time. I had forgotten what a great memory that was, and I really bonded with my Aunt Boots at that time. I walked away with some great information that’s stuck with me through my life. LaLanne also developed many exercise machines we use to this day, plus he encouraged women in the home at the time to join gyms, and get out of the house to get a workout in. Pioneer, and visionary – hey, he made it to 96, working out the day he passed away.
I try to make some sort of exercise a priority every day, and since I’m busy from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m most days and nights, the idea of working out wherever you are makes sense. Since sitting is the new smoking, wherever I work during the course of a day, I try to walk as much as possible, if it’s in between classes at school, or outside by the lake. Lunges, push ups, sit ups, squats – so many a day, almost every day, with or without free weights. If I can do it, at 58, anybody can. And for LaLanne’s eye-opening comments on sex, drugs, and the freedom to be yourself, check out LaLanne’s Playboy interview from 1985 – for certain, it will put to rest the notion that Jack was anything but a puritan.
Sitting at your kitchen table, like myself? Well, I’m going to finish typing, then crank off a hundred situps, then some squats, before I
head to the SOS Store to work my shift. As Jack would say, hey, come on, and join in!