Television fitness guru dies aged 96

Jack Lalanne, a one-time sugar addict who became a television fitness guru preaching exercise and healthy diet to a generation, died on Sunday aged 96.

LaLanne, who became a television fixture in 1959 in his jumpsuit and came to be regarded as the father of the modern fitness movement, succumbed to pneumonia following a brief illness at his home in California. "He was surrounded by his family and passed very peacefully and in no distress," his daughter, Yvonne LaLanne, said.

She said her father had stayed active until a few months ago, including taping a public television special. Well into his nineties, LaLanne exercised for two hours a day, including 90 minutes of weightlifting and 30 minutes of swimming.

"I can't die," LaLanne would say. "It would ruin my image."

LaLanne was born François Henri LaLanne on 26 September 1914 in San Francisco, the son of French immigrants. He said he grew into a "sugarholic" who suffered terrible headaches, mood swings and depression. When he was 15, his mother took him to hear health lecturer Paul Bragg, who urged followers to exercise and eat unprocessed foods, and so LaLanne began his journey to become America's first fitness guru. rs

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