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Famed Strongman Jack LaLanne’s Key to Happiness

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Jack LaLanne
Body builder Jack LaLanne, a former Mr. America, poses against a background of Alcatraz Island. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

 

The so-called “Godfather of Modern Fitness,” Jack LaLanne made a name for himself by spreading the gospel of physical fitness in the 1930s and beyond. He would later bring that concept to television, becoming one of the most recognizable fitness spokesmen—and infomercial stars—long before the Richard Simmonses of the world ever did a single jumping jack.

Just to give you an idea of LaLanne’s physical prowess, in 1954, at the age of 40, he swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 lbs. of equipment strapped to his body; the following year, at age 41, swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco (see the image above); and in 1980, at age 66, towed 10 boats in Miami filled with 77 people for over one mile in less than an hour. Needless to say, the guy was a lifelong badass.

Fitness enthusiast Jack LaLanne, celebrating his 70th birthday 11/20, swims through Long Beach Harbor towing a flotilla of 70 boats. LaLanne towed the boats with his hands and feet shackled for a mile past the ocean liner Queen Mary. (Getty Images)
Fitness enthusiast Jack LaLanne, celebrating his 70th birthday, swims through Long Beach Harbor towing a flotilla of 70 boats. LaLanne towed the boats with his hands and feet shackled for a mile past the ocean liner Queen Mary. (Getty Images)

 

For 34 years beginning in ’51, he also starred in The Jack LaLanne Show, where he’d discuss health, fitness, and psychology issues—as well as show off his many strongman talents. In one episode of the show, LaLanne has a frank discussion with his TV audience about the notion of unhappiness, and what we can do to turn that around.

“People have gotten so far away from the natural way they should be living that they have lost the ability to be happy anymore,” explains LaLanne. “That’s the important thing about life: to be happy,” he drives home.

Watch LaLanne’s full pep talk on happiness below. Interested in more vintage LaLanne? Visit his YouTube channel here.