Jack LaLanne -- Psychologist

What Women Really Think
Jan. 24 2011 12:10 PM

Jack LaLanne -- Psychologist


Just last week I was working out to vintage Jack LaLanne and marveling that at age 96, the fitness pioneer was still hitting the gym. Yesterday LaLanne died. He was his own best advertisement for the life-enhancing benefits of exercise and good nutrition. His was the kind of death that we can all hope for – vigorous until we cease to exist.


One thing that struck me as I watched a week’s worth of his shows from the early 1960s was that he was ahead of his time not only physically but psychologically. In each show he gave a little lecture to his "students," the housewives he encouraged to spend a half-hour with him doing something for themselves. He knew that making exercise a part of your daily routine, as typical as brushing your teeth, was crucial.  By today’s standards his exercise regime was easy, but he knew what was hard was the daily struggle to carve out the time to do it. LaLanne exhorted that you couldn’t achieve fitness if exercise was something you did when you were being good, it had to be something you just did.

The power of habituation is one of the keys of the field of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Instead of searching for the childhood roots of our problems, it seeks to replace destructive habits of mind with more beneficial ones.  LaLanne is being rightly celebrated as one of central figures in sparking the late 20 th century interest in fitness. But he also deserves credit for understanding the key to making the body healthier starts with the mind.

Also in Slate, Emily Yoffe scissor-kicks to  Jack LaLanne's vintage fitness videos , 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.' "

Photograph of Jack LaLanne by Vince Bucci for Getty Images.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?