Yesterday fitness guru Jack LaLanne died at the age of 96 in California. He committed himself to healthy living early in life, and he persevered in that lifestyle until the day he died.
LaLanne hosted the longest running fitness show in television history, and he skillfully developed and marketed a range of products, from health foods and juice machines to exercise books and fitness spas.
Of course what most people remember are his incredible feats of strength, which seemed part Schwarzenegger and part Houdini. The guy once did well over 1,000 pushups in 23 minutes.
At the age of 60, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf, while handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat!
But why all this talk about Jack LaLanne on a blog about vocations? It’s because LaLanne knew what it meant to have a “plan of life.” He had one, and he stuck to it to a remarkable degree. Even more, he received the natural benefits of his orderly, disciplined life, as he enjoyed a long, healthy life on this earth.
Yet, even LaLanne’s earthly life had to come to an end, and we pray that he may now rest in peace.
We may be working on a LaLanne-like (say that five times fast) “plan of life” as we feebly try to lose a few pounds and get in shape in fulfillment of our New Year’s resolutions.
But even more, how is our “plan of life” from a spiritual perspective? How is our life ordered? Are our priorities straight? Is prayer, family, work, and recreation balanced appropriately? Am I reading books or viewing programs of a spiritual or at least edifying nature? Do I receive guidance from my pastor, spiritual advisor, or perhaps trusted friends?
Am I as committed to my spiritual plan of life as LaLanne was to his dietary and exercise regimen?
Jack LaLanne once said that we wouldn’t give our dog a cigarette and donut for breakfast, so why should these harmful things be part of our daily routine? Similarly, if we know certain activities aren’t good for us spiritually (and that’s what matters most, after all!), why do we allow them to become part of our lives?
I was that chubby kid in front of the TV trying to do the various exercises that Jack LaLanne was teaching his viewers. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty, but he did help instill an appreciation for exercise that has been integrated into my adult life.
May we who are committed to the Lord and His Church encourage others to do their “spiritual exercises” and to develop a plan of life, so that all that we do is ordered to our ultimate Good.