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The Spirit of Jack LaLanne Lives On

By Janis McDonald

Joe Hernandez

What do Jack, Janis, and Joe have in common except the “J?” We spent our lives helping people feel better, driven by a lifetime passion for fitness and a desire to share it with everyone.

When my hero, “The Apostle of Fitness,” Jack LaLanne, died at 98, it was the end of an era. A time filled with tiny TVs, black and white programs and the Jack LaLanne Show. Somehow I felt Jack might be the only person in the world to beat death.

Jack began his TV exercise program in l953, which lasted 32 years and can still be seen in reruns. Even as a 4-year-old, I remember mom, on the floor, spinning her legs in the air, performing “Bicycles” to Jack’s strict admonishments to keep on going

Jack’s feats of physical strength would astound the world, including celebrating his 70th by dragging 70 boats loaded with 70 people for one mile, swimming with his hands and feet shackled. I found this one hard to believe, yet the YouTube video confirms it!

During the 15 years of owning a private gym in San Miguel de Allende, my clients “grew up” into their more mature bodies with the accompanying surprises that aging can bring.

In order to reach more people, I decided to search for an older trainer to help me in my gym. Someone with a mature body, an expertise in fitness and most of all, a passion for helping people feel better.

For years I have known Joe Hernandez, 73-year-old Fitness Trainer, and yet I was still shocked by the similarities in our fitness career paths.

In the ‘70s, Joe and I began teaching our first exercise classes based on the l950s Royal Canadian Exercise Handbook. Joe taught classes in the Air Force, while I conducted classes at a Marine Corps Air Station.

In the Air Force, Joe held the current Strict Pushup Championship (87 pushups) and taught soldiers the Royal Canadian 5BX program. Married to a Marine Corps Fighter Pilot, I taught the 10BX women’s version to military wives.

Like Jack LaLanne, we were able to reach more people through television. Joe’s classes were filmed and distributed throughout worldwide to the Air Force. I hosted the Body by Janis exercise TV show, filmed in Hawaii and seen by millions.

Jack seemed to have aged without any replacement parts, while Joe has metal in his back and shoulder causing him to adapt his exercise program to meet the changes in his body. A few years ago, I finally forgave myself for aging and accepted the need for a new hip, leading me into a new era of Boomerdom!

Years ago, Jack coached the elderly and disabled to not forgo exercise, believing it would enable them to enhance their strength. Now we know exercise is the key to active aging and the basis for all good health. In fact, exercise seems to be the top overall preventive medicine we can practice.

As a Boomer at 65 and Joe at 73, a Beyonder, we both personally know active aging must include a development of strength and power while maintaining good posture. Here’s the best news, no matter how long it’s been, how old the body is or what has happened to the body on the way to growing up, exercise will improve everything including energy, strength, power and posture. Truly, it is never too late to do “something!”

I welcome Joe to my active aging gym where people get fit for life. Like Jack LaLanne, Joe and I believe without a doubt, “There is never an excuse not to exercise.”

Janis McDonald, Master Fitness Trainer, Wellness Coach, Private Gym: 152 0457,


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