Monday, January 24, 2011

50's advice from the fitness godfather

Today I learned about a man who changed the world and inspired people to take the same the same steps in improving both their physical and mental health as I have taken over the past few years. Yet this man gave his advice to a national audience over 50 years ago and spent a lifetime changing peoples' lives. Sadly, I am only discovering this man due to his untimely death at the young age of 96: Jack LaLanne.

Here are just a few of his numerous accomplishments: starting the first public gyms in America (now Bally Total Fitness), inventing leg exercise machines and pulley weight machines, hosting a fitness show for 34 years, performing 1,000 pull ups and 1000 jumping jacks in just over an hour, creating a vegetable juicer line still sold today, performing over 1,000 push ups in 23 minutes, swimming in handcuffs while towing 70 rowboats with people for over a mile... at age 70. This man could do straight-body finger pushups at age 90, a feat I just tried at a relatively fit age of 29 which nearly resulted in breaking all my fingers (I won't even attempt the one-handed version he did at age 50).

Even with all these amazing feats, what surprises me most is how his life advice from his 50's TV fitness show is still applicable today. This man knew what he wanted in life and chose to share his secrets to achieving happiness and longevity to everyone. And the fact that he happily lived to the age of 96 shows that there may be some merit to his teachings. Here are a few of my new-favorite inspiring videos:

Life needs incentives

Stop being so tired

The effect of bad habits

Why people are unhappy

And more can be found here

Add color, update the outfits, and change the hair and these videos could be mistaken for current day "self-help" programming. The maladies he mentions, from obesity (from empty calories and man-made foods) to general happiness due to modern luxuries, still apply today. Even his primary rule of nutrition "if man made it, don't eat it" is the basis of many of today's popular diets (and the organic movement).

Thanks to constant technological improvements, scientific discoveries, and general generational gaps, I grew up with the (often erroneous) assumption that the older an advice on health (or self-help, finances, etc ) is usually wrong and I should only read the newest book with the newest advice. It is videos like these that remind me how little has changed throughout the years and that some advice is timeless.

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