Jack LaLanne, Fitness Pioneer turns 95
Oakland's own Jack LaLanne, who founded what may have been the world's first fitness-focused gym in downtown Oakland in 1936, turned 95 recently. In today's DTO, where Club One anchors the City Center retail complex, it's difficult to imagine how groundbreaking it was for Mr. LaLanne to open his 15th Street gym. But many decades and countless juicer sales later, Jack LaLanne is still preaching health and boasting about his accomplishments. Today's Chronicle features an interview with the healthy-living pioneer, who provides the reader with a few choice memories.
One of LaLanne's most effective sales devices has been his amazing feats of strength. When Arnold Schwarzenegger came to America in 1968 and became an instant sensation on the Southern California muscle scene, LaLanne challenged the kid to a duel at Muscle Beach. The Austrian Oak was 21; the Oakland Oak was 54.
"I beat him in chin-ups and push-ups," LaLanne says. "He said, 'That Jack LaLanne's an animal! I was sore for four days. I couldn't lift my arms!' "