Wednesday, September 21, 2011



By Monika Tarkowska-Carter, CPT, LWMC, HLC 2

Jack LaLanne's wife, Elaine with me at the IDEA World Fitness Convention

 Recently, I attended the biggest annual event in the fitness industry – the IDEA World Fitness Convention, in Los Angeles. I have been a fan of the convention for many years, with its amazing array of lectures, workshops and workouts, as well as a large scale expo showcasing everything new and hot in the fitness world.

IDEA Health and Fitness Association will be celebrating its 30-th anniversary next year. I am proud to be a member of the organization that has helped bring the status of health and fitness professionals of every specialty to a completely new and higher level. The organization has 55,000 members worldwide and 5000 of them were present at the recent convention. It is not only inspiring to see so many like-minded people under one roof, but more than anything, it is uplifting and heartwarming to see that so many people of all ages, from all over the world, are committed to spreading the word about health through exercise. Now, more than ever before, the world needs us, as obesity epidemic, as well diabetes, heart disease and other lifestyle related diseases, have reached alarming proportions.

“INSPIRE THE WORLD TO FITNESS” is the recent initiative undertaken by IDEA. It has met with great enthusiasm on the part of all of us who see the devastating results of the health crisis worldwide. Each year, during a special keynote address, the organization honors individuals who, in some special way, have inspired the world to fitness and health. This year, IDEA bestowed an inaugural Jack LaLanne Award, though posthumously, to Jack LaLanne for introducing the country to weight training and helping to spread the knowledge about the importance of regular physical activity.

JACK LALANNE was 97 years old when he died of complications from pneumonia. His sudden death came almost as a shock since he was always a symbol of eternal health and longevity. A sickly teenager, who lived on a diet of sweets,  in rather poor health, whose doctors did not predict a long life, was so inspired by a lecture by one of the famous nutritionists of the 1930-ies, Paul Bragg that he changed his diet almost instantaneously and started working out on a regular basis. Within a short period of time, he realized that his life had changed forever. The incredible strength, vigor and energy, and almost inhuman acts of endurance he became known for, were well documented by the US and world media for many years. He was the first person to have an exercise show on TV. He opened the first real weight training gym in Northern California. He was the one to develop many of the exercise machines currently used in health clubs. He was a spokes person for healthy nutrition and daily exercise, often before doctors knew much about either one. In the early years, many of them spoke furiously against him and his recommendations. He was the one to prove, year after year, that one’s age doesn’t matter when it comes to working out – whether you are young or old, a man or a woman. He showed that exercise, and especially strength training, has amazing anti-aging benefits: being old doesn’t have to mean being weak, sick, and dependant. He set out to prove, by his own example, that if one pays attention to good nutrition and takes care of one’s body, one can remain youthful, energetic, and full of stamina well into the 90-ies and beyond. He worked out every day in the early morning to remain in great condition until his death. His contribution to the health of Americans (and most likely many other people around the world who had heard of him), has been enormous.

Jack’s wife Elaine accepted the award on his behalf. At 85 years old, she is one vibrant and spunky lady. After giving her acceptance speech and sharing some jokes and interesting stories about Jack, she dropped on the floor and started doing push-ups to standing ovation from the audience.

 Jack LaLanne will always remain a symbol of health and, one might say, immortality. But in my mind, more than anything, he will remain a symbol of inner strength and strong motivation it takes to make the decision to be healthy. All of us are capable of it, yet so few of us chose this path. It is not easy, and sometimes requires sacrifices, but in the end it can bring everlasting rewards.

If all of us take care of our own health, there will be so much less suffering in the world; fewer diseases and debilitating conditions; less money spent on health care; more quality time to spend with our families and friends; and more time to enjoy life for all it has to offer.


 The story of Apolo Ohno – an Olympic athlete with zero regrets – coming in the next blog post.

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