Tag Archives: Jack LaLanne

Why Do I (You) Work Out?

I’m often asked, “How often do you workout?”, not what do I do. It’s generally presumed that someone who makes a career out of keeping people in shape must workout 8 days a week, right? No. Just like everyone else, I like my rest days too, only what I consider a rest day is probably more like an active day for most. But here’s my honest answer. I’m physically active 7 days a week. Some days more involved than others but I’m moving to some degree. Why? Because I choose to and the alternative does not appeal to me very much. So when did this all start or have I always been this way?

My Humble Beginnings

It goes way back to when I was very young witnessing my mother working out with the likes of Jane Fonda, Richard Simmonds, or Jack LaLanne. I was so impressed that people moved their bodies in certain ways to create a positive outcome. Then, I was an athlete through high school and I quickly appreciated the value of taking care of myself physically and it’s positive outcomes. I was never the best athlete but I could compete and “hang” with whoever or whatever the competition and not feel destroyed. In college, I was able to pursue an education in an area that I had already enjoyed and had fueled my passion to simply helping others. Not a day goes by that I take for granted the path that was laid out for me but also worked hard at keeping it growing. Working out was not something I did; it was a part of the fabric that makes me who I am.

Today

My workouts have evolved and rightfully so. As a fitness professional for almost 25 years, I’ve seen it all, tried most of it, and have the clarity to understand what is worth its investment and what is not. Exercise at its root is simply physical movement, a concept most don’t appreciate enough to include in their lives. There’s a ton of blame to be passed around as well as to why this occurs but it ultimately comes down to a choice: you either choose to move or you don’t. Forget about what you think you have to do and just move! Simple, right? Forget about the joining a gym, taking a class, buying equipment for your home, etc. and just move. Once that starts and is consistent, then you can look at alternatives to improving that movement. I love it when people tell me they don’t like to exercise. For one, I feel bad for them. Some where along their path they had a bad experience that soured them on the subject. Secondly, their outlook on life is bleak and perhaps there are deeper issues than I’m quailed to assist. Exercise is not the end all, be all, of life, but we were born with two legs for locomotion and the results of moving far outweigh any alternative.

So Why Then Do I (And You Should) Workout?

In no particular order:
• My personal health and well being. There are no guarantees in life but my odds are greater.
• My family and loved ones need and want me to be there, as do I.
• I love the way it makes me feel and look.
• It makes me feel confident.
• I feel generally stronger all around.
• It puts my mind at ease and is a superb way to handle stress.
• My energy levels are higher.
• Day to day tasks and activities are not a burden.
• I rest and sleep well.
• I rarely get sick and if and when I do it’s short lived.
• Most physical tasks aren’t so daunting. Yes, I can be depended on.

If any or all of these appeal to you, I can guarantee they’ll become your reality by getting and staying moving. So what are you waiting for?

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Bodybuilding Vs. Weight Training

I suppose I’m at that stage in my life now where it seems almost weekly where celebrities, athletes, and other famous people I grew up with are now starting to leave us. A little over  a month ago a man that most people outside of the strength training and bodybuilding worlds would not even recognize passed away without nearly as much the attention as the “Godfather of Fitness” Jack LaLanne had when he passed in 2011. His name is Joe Weider and chances are you’ve seen, read, or at the very least heard of his publications (Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Shape magazines among others); his international bodybuilding contests (Mr. Olympia, Ms. Olympia, etc.); his lines of strength equipment and supplements.  But what people aren’t aware of is Joe Weider is credited with not only bringing the sport of bodybuilding to worldwide attention, but he is the one, if not, the only reason we have Arnold Schwarzenegger here in America.

My First Weight Set

My early lifting days involved using the kind of things that are almost en vogue today: cinder blocks, railroad ties, clothes line props, tree branches, monkey bars, small tires, etc. But once I got serious, my first weight set was a Joe Weider starter set. The barbell was metal but clothed in plastic. The plates were also plastic but filled with sand (other sets were filled with concrete). The bench was small, but adequate and had a built in rack with a leg extension/leg curl attachment. It was my first gym in the basement of my house and as I progressed into puberty, me and one of my best friends in life lifted in his mom’s garage with multiple Joe Weider sets.  What was my goal back then? To be big and muscular of course.  While I never had aspirations to join a bodybuilding contest, I liked the way I felt, the way I looked, and the fun I had lifting weights. As it turns out, fitness became my career and I still play with weights almost everyday – but I’ve advanced from the concrete filled plastic plates.

Beyond Bodybuilding

Over the years, I’ve evolved the way I train and the way I think.  The bodybuilding style of training moved to more fitness style training to more athletic style training to more functional style training and so forth.  I went from admiring the obviously overgrown and overblown physiques in the magazines to affectionately  calling Muscle and Fitness magazine Muscle and Fiction due to the extraordinary amounts of articles and advertising all funded by the supplement companies. With age came wisdom and with experience came a better way to accomplish the same task with less. As a fitness professional, I’ve seen numerous times over the years people who approach weight lifting like a bodybuilder, yet one – they don’t want to be a bodybuilder;  two, they don’t want to adopt the lifestyle of a bodybuilder; 3 – despite all that, they still expect to look like a bodybuilder. Not going to happen.  But is there a difference between bodybuilding and weightlifting?

Beyond The Science

With bodybuilding, the goal is simple – increased muscular size (hypertrophy) and definition. With weight training, you can also certainly accomplish both goals but the difference lies in the approach.  A bodybuilder will attack or train a specific muscle group (i.e.chest) or two during a training session in as many ways as possible to get as much dedicated work to the muscle group(s) as possible. An everyday exerciser going to the gym to lift weights is not going to train with the intensity or training protocol that a bodybuilder is going to train with nor should they. Why? Because they don’t want to be a bodybuilder.  They may think they do but they really don’t. Beyond the discipline of the weight room comes the discipline to the strict eating regimen and while I won’t discuss the pharmacology of bodybuilding for the purpose of this article, bodybuilding is an activity, like training for a marathon, that has specific protocols and techniques. Same holds true whether male or female.

A large majority of women still shy away from the weight training thinking it will make them look like a bodybuilder.  That couldn’t be further from the truth. Number one, most women don’t have enough naturally circulating testosterone. Number two, there isn’t enough protein that can be healthfully ingested to create such an anabolic environment in the body. Number three, most women are not going to lift the sheer amount of weight repeatedly to create such mass. Weightlifting, resistance training, or weight training, no matter what you want to call it, has a benefit to us all.

My point is this.  Weight training is a powerful, wonderful exercise with amazing benefits for both sexes. If you don’t want to be a bodybuilder, then don’t train like one.  Lift heavy, lift hard, and lift with intensity but lift with a purpose. And to Mr.Joe Weider, thank you for your ingenuity and contributions to our health and fitness community.  We will continue to carry on strong.

 

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

 

 

 

 

Jack LaLanne – The Godfather of Fitness

Jack LaLanneWhen I was six years old, I thought I wanted to be a fireman, an astronaut, police officer, or even one of those guys that operates the big construction machinery. But on my way out the door to play in  my imaginary world, my mom would be working out to Richard Simmons or watching Phil Donahue – which was the first time I saw Jack LaLanne.  I remember stopping for a moment to see this crazy old man on TV, who looked old enough to be my grandfather but with bigger muscles.  He was like a real world super hero with his tank tops and shorts (even then I knew something wasn’t quite right about Mr. Simmons).  I paused only for a moment (like two seconds for a 6 year old) to see him talking enthusiastically about something. I imagined it was about his new movie but what did I know.  What I didn’t know at that moment in time is that I would make a career out of something this old guy was talking about.

An Inspiration

The fitness industry, sad to say, is full of frauds and schemers; people with egos bigger than their biceps.  But Jack LaLannewas not a fraud.  He was very real; very passionate about health; very passionate about fitness; and I imagine very passionate about life. I believe his bizarre yet astounding physical featsare a testament to that. I never had the privilege to meet him personally and he probably would have made me feel like I’ve got a long way to go fitness wise, but I would have taken any advice he had to give. He was doing fitness when no one knew or cared anything about it, hence his appropriate monicker as “The Godfather of Fitness”.  He became an icon even in today’s fitness “guru” empire.  He lived to be 96 years old from an era where the life expectancy wasn’t much beyond 60 years.

Thank you Jack LaLanne. Because of you, I hope to live another 58 years.