When he opened his first health club in 1936 at 21, Jack LaLanne helped launch an industry that today brings in $19 billion annually. A tireless advocate for healthful living, LaLanne turned his passion into a string of successful ventures, including the longest-running exercise program in TV history and a chain of health clubs. Now 95, LaLanne shares the secrets of his longevity and his business success.
Tell the truth, be honest, and practice what you preach. Too many people in my industry are just in it for the money. When you're in business, you should have only one thing on your mind, and that is helping the customer.
You can't believe what I went through in starting my business. In 1936, when I opened my first gym in Oakland, I had doctors telling people, "If you start working out with Jack LaLanne, the women will start looking like men, and the old guys will die of heart attacks." They thought I was just a dumb, musclebound guy. Now every doctor wants you to exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables.
It's all up to you. Back in 1951, a friend of mine in San Francisco told me about auditions they were having for a television show that advertised a health product. I said, "What do I know about television?" But anything in life is possible, and how do you know unless you try? I went down to L.A. and auditioned, and I ended up doing the show for 30 years. That's how I got on television.
I'm busier now than I've ever been. I don't think about the money. I do it to help people. Don't stop. You've got to work your mind. A lot of people talk about the good old days. Bullshit. The good old days are right this second.
The food you eat today makes you what you'll be tomorrow. So if man makes it, don't eat it. And if it tastes good, spit it out.