Fitness guru LaLanne dies of respiratory failure at 96

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MORRO BAY, Calif. | Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down and pump iron for decades before exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

Mr. LaLanne died of respiratory failure owing to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California’s central coast, his longtime agent Rick Hersh said.

“I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for,” Elaine LaLanne, 84, a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.

Mr. LaLanne credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform others’ lives, too.

“The only way you can hurt the body is not use it,” Mr. LaLanne said. “Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.”

**FILE** Jack LaLanne celebrates his 70th birthday in 1984 by towing 70 boats and 70 persons while swimming 1.5 miles in California's Long Beach Harbor. (Associated Press)

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**FILE** Jack LaLanne celebrates his 70th birthday in 1984 by towing 70 ... more >

His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the ‘70s. Mr. LaLanne and his dog, Happy, encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.

In addition to his wife of 51 years, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.

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