Remembering the Jack of all fitness trades

HOLLYWOOD HILLS — Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, fitness icon Richard Simmons and former “Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno were among hundreds of friends and family who packed an auditorium Tuesday to remember Jack LaLanne.

“Jack is now in heaven, and that is going to be very annoying for a lot of people up there,” Schwarzenegger joked. “Because we know what is going to happen. He already has told St. Peter that the wakeup call is 6 in the morning.”

LaLanne, known to many as the “godfather of fitness,” died Jan. 23 in Morro Bay at age 96. He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years and three children.

Schwarzenegger was one of more than a dozen speakers at Tuesday’s “celebration of life” at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, where friends and family shared memories of LaLanne, noting his passion and infectious enthusiasm for life.

“Jack invigorated everyone,” Ferrigno said on his way into the ceremony.

LaLanne — described as a pioneer of the fitness industry — was also remembered for his many feats of strength.

During his lifetime, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while donning handcuffs, swam the Golden Gate Channel while towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser and set a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes.

“LaLanne means, ‘Do some push-ups, you lazy bastard,’” Schwarzenegger said.

Simmons, who created his own brand in the television fitness arena, said he was one of millions of people whom LaLanne inspired.

“I’m here to pay tribute to a legend, someone who influenced me and made me a better person,” Simmons said.

Many fitness celebrities at the ceremony credited their careers to LaLanne.

“I feel honored to be here for Jack,” Denise Austin said. “He gave me my first start on TV. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.”

Some noted how LaLanne was ahead of his time when he opened one of the nation’s first fitness gyms in 1936 in Oakland.

His influence, they said, helped lay the groundwork for the fitness craze that would sweep the country decades later.

“No matter where you go, there’s a health club,” Schwarzenegger said. “It all started with Jack LaLanne.”

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