I started the feats because everyone said I was just a muscle-bound charlatan. I had to show them I was an athlete.
"Maybe you don't believe in Jesus," Jack continued, looking me up and down. "But was Jesus a showman? Why did he go around making the blind see and the lame walk and those kinds of things? He did it to call attention to his philosophy."
On September 26th, next Saturday, Jack turns 95. Instead of doing my own birthday challenge this year I'll be doing one in honor of the man who started all this, Jack LaLanne (here's the history of how I began doing challenges). Why not join me?
Someone has actually started a site to help you organize a Jack LaLanne challenge on "Jack LaLanne Day". If you do something cool, make sure and record it and we'll post it on Birthdaychallenge.com.
I'm not sure what it's going to be just yet, but the number 95 (Jack's age next Sat) will be in the mix. It's going to be epic but, mostly, it's going to be fun. I don't think it'll be epic in Jack-ian terms, exactly. Check out his list. Or even in mine (2007, 2003, 2000), but it will be hard for me in my current state of recovery. A challenge is anything that challenges you personally. If you think that you can't do it but also think that, maybe, just maybe, if you do everything right that you might be able to, then you're in the ballpark. If this goal is something you've always wondered about, then your golden. I'll announce the exact plan next week.
In the mean time, here's one of my favorite Jack LaLanne articles, courtesy of Outside Magazine.
There are so many gems in this article that it's almost a training bible. Here are a few:
Think you're training too hard?
After he opened the Jack Lalanne Physical Culture Studio in 1936, Jack got clients by going around to the homes of overweight and underweight adolescents. He sold their concerned parents on memberships as a way to save their children's lives. "I checked daily on their nutritional habits and their grades in school," he said. "If they didn't show up, I'd know why. Only mistake I made was I might have worked the kids too hard."
"How did you know you'd gone too far?" I asked.
"They'd heave and pass out," he said with a nostalgic smile.
Why do I always recommend changing your routine every three weeks?
Out near the pool, as three dogs lapped at the water, Jack pointed to a pile of neoprene straps tied to a chrome railing. "I change my program every three weeks," he said. "Out here, I've been strapping myself to the side of the pool lately and butterflying for at least an hour. You oughta try it."
On snacking before bed and other bad habits:
Then--thoughtlessly, perhaps, and only because I do it myself--I asked Jack LaLanne if he ever snacks before bedtime.
"Never!" he snarled. "You don't get it. I am one runaway son of a bitch! I am an animal! I want to eat everything! I want to get drunk every single night! I want to screw every woman there is! We are all wild animals. But we must learn to use our minds. We must learn to control the bestial and sensual sides of ourselves!"
On supplementing your diet:
After his dawn-to-dark workouts, Jack will pour several hundred different vitamin supplements into a blender along with great handfuls of yeast and liver tablets, a pile of kelp, some carrot and celery juice, a few pieces of fruit, some egg whites, and a splash of half-and-half. He says it's the worst-tasting stuff in the whole world, but he drinks it down every day. He says that the secret of his endurance swims through cold and treacherous waters is a massive infusion of "B complex, liver, and defatted government-inspected yeast."
On fad fitness equipment:
"Have you seen some of the crap they're selling as exercise equipment now?" Jack wondered. "How about that Suzanne Somers? She should have been thrown in jail for selling the piece-of-crap Thigh Master. It just develops a little muscle on the inner thigh. What good is that? And have you seen Tony Little, the guy who screams on TV? He's like an imbecile. He says you need this little thing to hold you while you do a sit-up. Why does the government let him get away with it?"
"Don't talk age!" he interrupted. "Age has nothing to do with it. One of my guys who started out at my gym is 87 now, and he still does ten bench-press reps with a hundred-pound dumbbell in each hand. He's training to set a leg-pressing record. I put things in the guy's brain way back when, and now he'll never get away from it."
And, now that I think personally about my life, on why I train the way I do:
"I train like I'm training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I've always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest." Then he segued into a mantra I'm sure I heard dozens of times as a very young boy: "How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don't work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It's my tranquilizer. It's part of the way I tell the truth--and telling the truth is what's kept me going all these years."