Well my doctor who can be blunt at times, which is good because I tend to take blunt people more seriously told me I was out of shape today and need to walk at least fifteen minutes a day. I kind of got an idea that something was wrong the night of the SF Weekly awards when I walked out of the metro station and by the time I got down to 111 Minna I had broken out in a sweat. I did that walk every day for years and never broke a sweat unless it was a very hot day. So things have changed for me and I sat down and thought about it for a bit.
For the last two years I’ve been unemployed except for a short 3 month stretch with a start up company that required me to sit at home in front of the computer and record voice overs for a cool iPhone app called HearPlanet. It turns out that being that sedentary all day long isn’t good for you. I spent most of my days at my computer, looking for work, doing freelance work or watching Hulu and Netflix and tweeting and Facebooking. This is not a good habit to have.
The weird thing is that I feel like I should look like the guy in the picture, but I don’t. I could lose five pounds, but I don’t look overweight for my age. I’m pretty close to my BMI which is good, but if I break out in a sweat after walking a block something’s got to change. As you may have noticed, my posting has been reduced a bit with my new job. I’m going to need to step away from the computer a bit more now so that I can get myself back to being able to walk six blocks to the store easily. That means I’ll try to have at least three posts a week.
It’s time I turned myself around so the guy in the picture can’t beat me in a sprint. We love our wide screen TV’s and computers and all the big techie stuff you can sit in front of for hours on end staring at here in San Francisco, but it’s not good for you. While my doctor has said my heart is in good shape, I still don’t want to die in my 50’s due to natural causes. Now it’s time to get up and take a walk after which I will call my friend Clint the yoga master down in Costa Rica for some yoga tips. For what it did for him, it might get me back in shape.
Jack LaLanne, the he-man before it was cool to be a he-man has died. He was pre-Schwartznegger, pre-Joe Weider. He was the guy who got all the average joe’s to get in shape. Lalanne started by opening a fitness club in Oakland in 1936, a time when it wasn’t considered proper for men and women to exercise. He later opened up another one in the old Stonestown Mall. Those who remember that mall will remember the stairway down in the center courtyard area with the black wrought iron hand rails and the dark red striped velvet and satin wall paper [that my mother always referred to as whorehouse wallpaper].
The San Francisco fitness center opened up after he landed a gig at KGO-TV doing a morning fitness show. It was an early morning show I suppose to get people pumped up to go to work in the mornings. My mother watched him religiously and even got me into the show and had me exercising before I’d walk off to school. When the fitness center opened in SF my mom had to go because Jack was going to be there for the grand opening. Looking back, I think it would have been easy to meet Jack if you just drove over to his Oakland gym, but it was more convenient to hop in your station wagon for the five minute drive over to Stonestown. We got there and there was Jack in his jump suit and ballet slippers [how can a guy look macho in a jump suit and ballet slippers?] Flexing and mugging for the cameras. Then we all got to meet Jack and shake his hand and get a autographed photo of him. I wish I still had that photo now. It’d probably be worth something.
He was a great pitch man for fitness and while he could have turned into a product mill for thousands of products he only had one, The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. To hear him talk about this you’d think it was the fountain of youth. My mom even bought one and I remember for a few months we enjoyed fresh squeezed juice with our breakfasts until she started to mix carrots and zucchini into my orange juice. I am still scarred to this day about drinking carrot juice because of that incident of which I will speak no further.
It turns out he went a little bit farther in his later years by writing a few books promoting healthy eating and exercise. He even has a website and a blog that his last post was on the 20th of this month only a few days before he passed. I found a few recent pictures of him and I have to say for guy who was 96 he looked like he was in his early 60’s. As a matter of fact to celebrate his 60th birthday he swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco while shackled AND towing a boat with camera men filming him. Something no convict had ever attempted. He became a national figure, but he was always a part of the Bay Area. Now if I had only listened to him better when I shook his hand and he told me, “Now you listen to your Uncle Jack, exercise, eat healthy and don’t smoke!” OK, I got two of the three at least. I’m thinking though that his shot of brandy he enjoyed every night helped him add a few years.