Thursday, February 03, 2011
Jack LaLanne vs The New York Times
No matter how righteous we feel our fight is it wouldn’t be a fight without a nemesis and, even in his wake, Jack had his. So before we re-focus on the job at hand, mainly the development of P90X mc2, Asylum, and my own training and dieting experiments, let’s yield the floor, one more time, to my buddy Jack. Denis over at the Fitness Nerd MCs:
“This weekend, New York Times Food Critic Frank Bruni wasted space in an otherwise fine newspaper with this editorial on Jack LaLanne and his (negative) impact on American fitness culture.”
What, you might wonder, in a country with an obesity rate creeping towards 40% - that’s projected to double in the next 10 years - could Bruni be criticizing? Good question.
“That sense of failure you feel when you haven’t exercised in days? That conviction that if you could pull off better push-ups, you’d be a better person through and through? These, too, are his doing, at least in part. What he left behind when he died last week, at the toned old age of 96, was not only a sweaty culture of relentless crunching and spinning but also the notion that fitness equals character, and that self-actualization begins with the self-discipline to get and stay in shape. In the post-LaLanne landscape, it’s not the eyes but the abdominals that are windows to the soul.”
Obviously Bruni hasn’t spent much time in the Cincinnati airport, a oversight not missed by Faye,”If Bruni seriously thinks America is fitness-obsessed, he needs to walk away from all those fancy, Manhattan bistros he reviews and spend an afternoon hanging out at a Jack in the Box - maybe one next door to the gym at an ‘exurban strip mall.’”
The ‘Nerd then goes into some more depth, analyzing what might motivate Bruni to take such offense to a pursuit that’s not only good for you, but a foundation for our existence as human beings. Because Jack wasn’t about having six-packs or beating up the guy who kicked sand in your face; he was about being healthy and living life as humans were meant to.
The simple fact that Bruni misses is that exercise is not really an option. That society has made it one is an unfortunate mistake. Kids can grow up in front of a computer and television, eating food that’s been delivered to them, and get an excuse to skip gym class, should their school still bother to provide it. These kids, whose brains won’t develop properly without exercise, can then grow into underachieving adults who lack the energy to move their bodies. And this option is growing daily as we lose our grip on just what it means to be a human animal. But one trip through any Midwestern mall, southern city, most every public school in America, or any statisticians’ office will confirm that this is not going swimmingly for the healthy of humanity.
All mammals, of which humans are a part, need exercise. And not just so we can score an attractive member of the opposite sex to mate with—though that’s a big motivational aspect. Exercise is what makes the body work in harmony; to release the proper hormones that develop our brains and muscles, to eliminate toxins we take in from the environment, to keep our bones and connective tissues dense, to keep our heart beating strongly, etc. Without exercise our bodies literately fall apart and die.
Modern medicine, and drugs, can—arguably—slow this, or at least make it seems more natural. But given that we’re living in the first generation where children’s life expectancy—despite huge improvements in medicine—is less than their parents I see no platform for Bruni’s stance other than a personal vendetta against fit people ranging from when he was picked on as a child. Not exactly a pulpit in today’s society.
Jack LaLanne 1
New York Times 0