Jack LaLanne, Jane Fonda, Jillian Michaels: Who's the best fitness guru?

The business, culture, and science of working out.
Jan. 19 2011 4:01 AM

Exercise Time Warp

I spent a week with Jack LaLanne, Jane Fonda, and Jillian Michaels. Who's the best fitness guru of them all?

See the rest of Slate's Fitness Issue.

(Continued from Page 2)

Michaels' program offers three 20-minute sessions of increasing intensity. Each workout alternates short circuits of cardio, strength, and abdominal training. There's a long history of hucksters who sell the promise of fitness for little investment of time, so I was skeptical that a 20-minute workout would be thorough and strenuous. Half-way through Michaels' DVD, through, I was begging for Jack LaLanne to tell me four sit-ups were enough. In Michaels' program, you use multiple muscle groups simultaneously—while you do a set of squats, you also lift weights overhead—and not the puny one-pounders that Jane Fonda touted.

Michaels' customers expect to be in agony, something that would have been unthinkable to the "gals" doing trimnastics with LaLanne. She pushes, cajoles, and tells us to move our "tush," but gone are the ballistic movements of the 1980s. Instead the abdominal crunches are much harder for being done slowly. Michaels says that if you put in the effort she demands for the full 20 minutes, "it takes the place of hours of phoning it in at the gym," which was certainly true for me. I didn't mind her annoying techno-pop soundtrack, because my pulse was pounding so hard in my ears I could barely hear it.

Afterward, collapsed in a heap, I felt rather proud—here I was a former "little helper" of Jack LaLanne's who half a century later was getting shredded.

Also in Slate, Emily Yoffe writes that Jack LaLanne was ahead of his time not only physically but psychologically, the Trending News Channel honors LaLanne's life with a video montage, and the Brow Beat blog notes that LaLanne credited his health "to a lifelong devotion to 'clean thoughts and dirty girls.' "

Like Slate on  Facebook. Follow us on  Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.