to Jack LaLanne
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: 97
'Bonus' Changes After Six Months of Living a Primal Lifestyle
died last week. He was 96, still a bit sweaty from his morning workout
when they found him, and had a vicegrip of a handshake that could
crush a man half his age – even on his deathbed. Old farmers had
nothing on his grip.
Jack's TV show
was one of my first exposures to the world of fitness, or, as he
put it, physical culture. Growing up in New England, I had spent
my days exploring the adjacent backwoods, climbing trees, skinning
knees, and getting into trouble, but I wasn't "working out." I had
no concept of it. I was just doing what felt right and what
was fun, and most kids did the same. Jack LaLanne introduced
us to the formal concept of physical fitness. He was one of the
first to realize that the childhood impulse toward physicality and
movement needed to be nurtured and developed in adulthood. I still
remember sitting in a chair in front of the TV doing knees-to-chests,
just like Jack.
wasn't quite right, I thought. Here Jack would be doing relatively
light exercises on camera – jumping jacks, jogging in place, various
full body movements without weights – but he was completely ripped.
I mean, he was huge, especially for the time. Big chest, lats like
wings that rivaled Bruce Lee's, a thin waist, biceps like softballs.
The guy obviously didn't get that body doing the workouts he was
showing us. He was keeping the good stuff secret. There had to be
an entire other world of exercise lurking out there, and I knew
it was a whole lot more intense than what he was doing. And I wanted
So I started
looking. Thus began my serious pursuit of physical fitness. Jack
LaLanne had it, and I wanted it. Our methods differed, of course.
I gravitated toward long
distance running, mostly because I was a skinny kid with a propensity
for endurance, but I became convinced that pursuing excellence in
physical fitness was worth doing because of Jack. I mean, fitness
as a concept wasn't even on my radar before him. It was just something
you did as a kid because it was fun, and your mom and dad didn't
do because it's just kid's stuff.
all that. Yeah, LaLanne wasn't Primal, but we had more in common
than you might suspect:
said "If man made it, hate it." Jack only ate real, whole food and
never touched refined
sugar. He shunned red meat late in life and ate egg whites,
meats (mostly fish) and whole
grains, but his emphasis on real food is notable.
He worked out
every morning in a fasted state before breakfast and ate just twice
He wore ballet
flats that might as well have been barefoot
Before we had
easy access to reams of medical journals featuring research on the
link between physical activity and brain function, Jack intuitively
knew exercise was about mental
fitness and psychological well-being as much as it was about
physical fitness. A constant refrain of his was that people were
unhappy, unfit, and messed up because we had forgotten how to move
and live naturally.
He bucked Conventional
Wisdom. All the experts insisted that weight training made athletes
slow and bulky, turned
women into man-beasts, and was bad
for older people, heart disease patients, and the libido. We
know this to be nonsense, but it was "truth" sixty years ago. And
it might still be if Jack hadn't opened up the nation's first gym
in 1936, popularized strength training, and got a nation of women
interested in fitness.
the rest of the article
February 4, 2011
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