Every now and then, you come across someone who takes your breath away. Someone you find irresistible, someone you admire, someone who intoxicates you to the point where they basically suffocate you, where you want to be them… Whether its Naomi Campbell or Bill Oddie, I reckon everyone notices someone who influences their lives forever. And mine was Jack LaLanne. ‘Who the fook..?’ I hear you spit into my freshly printed headshot. ‘Shut up’ I say back, ‘You don’t know nothing…You don’t know Jack’.
But you should. Because in my opinion, Jack LaLanne ought to be everyone’s hero. Described as the ‘godfather of fitness’ on Wikipedia, he may seem an unlikely choice, especially seeing as I don’t really ‘do’ fitness as such. To me, people who claim that they ‘do’ fitness mainly do 6.30 wake ups, tofu and wheatgrass breakfasts, and tight, tight shorts. Sadly I don’t ‘do’ any of that. I do leisurely 12 o’clock risings, a full English or mug of Golden Nuggets in front of Judge Judy. ‘Fitness’ seems rude, abrupt and alarming. ‘Fitness’ conjures up an army sergeant screaming ‘DROP DOWN AND GIVE ME TWENTY!’ to a girl who has only recently mastered the gentle balance games of the Wii Fit.
And yet just like Kate Winslet on Titanic, Jack stole my heart. “Overweight? Tired? lacking energy?” his shopping channel asked a woefully hungover 15 year old. ‘Mmm’ I slurred in the affirmative. But Jack had my back. His ‘Jack LaLanne Powerjuicer’ was apparently all I needed to convert me from a zombified albino teen, to a bronzed Californian beach babe with exotically glowing skin and a stomach like a snare drum. “Change your life, save your life” urged 80 year old Jack enthusiastically, adding “You’re the most important person you have, if you don’t do it who will?”. He was so right: if all the vitamins in a beige, foamy juice couldn’t save me, what hope was there left? He was like the dalai lama of the shopping channel, and since that moment I hung on his every word. He wasn’t like the beardy women on the Nads waxing channel, or the glib, orange salesmen on PriceDrop TV. Jack was trying to save me from myself. I trusted Jack. And so I bought it. Both the philosophy, and the juicer.
Admittedly the juicer was a little bit disappointing. Yes, it juiced whole fruits without the awkwardness of peeling, chopping, or moving my wrist. And yes, I could probably have used the left over ‘dry’ juice pulp to make many items such as ‘salsa!’ had I not had any money, or any other food left in the world. The fact remains however: the ‘Jack LaLanne Powerjuicer’ creates an unfortunate, fruity cappuccino type juice, with foam floating on the surface. I’m not bitter, but all I’ll say is that you never see the Tropicana businessmen wiping away a tangerine tash inbetween their bites of eggs benedict Arnold, do you? Exactly.
However, Jack’s philosophy remains inspiring. One of the most quoted Californian pensioners, his opinion on anything is golddust. “Would you get your dog up in the morning for a cup of coffee and a donut?” he asks. “Probably millions of Americans got up this morning with a cup of coffee, a cigarette and a donut. No wonder they are sick and fouled up.” Clearly, the man speaks sense. Or take his theory on warming up before exercise. “15 minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out there and eats the sucker.”
So, whilst I’m hesitant to shell out for more of Jack’s dubious kitchen gadgetry, his outlook on life is worth it. He was a man who shunned convention, bucked the trend, a rare case of someone who lived their life how they actually wanted to. Now as it happens that was freakishly healthily, but I’m not for a moment pretending that I’m about to live off egg whites and raw vegetables in the hope that I, like Jack, will be able to shackle myself to 70 boats, and tow them 1.5 miles at the age of 70. That’s literally mental. Who would do that? But seriously, what I think is worth learning from Jack is that there isn’t just one way to exist, one path for everybody. ‘I don’t want to die’ Jack is reported to have said, ‘it will ruin my image’. Well sadly, after 97 years of juicing and pumping iron, he has. But I for one will be thinking of him next time I down a ‘Green Magic’, desperately in search of something to cancel out the Pear VKs from the night before…