LOS ANGELES – Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired TV viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay, Calif., his longtime agent Rick Hersh said.

LaLanne ate healthy food and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.

“I have lost … the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for,” Elaine LaLanne, Lalanne’s wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.

Just before heart valve surgery in 2009, Jack LaLanne told his family that dying would wreck his image, his publicist Ariel Hankin said at the time.

Ex-“Price is Right” host Bob Barker, 87, credited LaLanne’s encouragement with helping him to start exercising often.

“He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness,” Barker said Sunday. “I saw him in about 2007 and he still looked remarkably good.”

LaLanne credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly to transform others’ lives, too.

“The only way you can hurt the body is if you don’t use it,” he said.

His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the ’70s. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.

He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and touted the value of raw produce as he helped market Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer.

At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco — handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. At 70, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor.

He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.