This week we lost a legend. The “Godfather of Fitness” died at the ripe, old age of 96. Jack LaLanne has been an inspiration for eight decades, preaching the virtues of vibrant health and how to achieve it. Many only know him as the guy selling juicers on TV.

LaLanne has a fascinating history we can all learn from. He was a sickly child. At age 3 he was said to be very hyperactive. He was addicted to sugar and his mother would give him candy as a reward.

His health continued to deteriorate and his teeth were discolored; he was underweight, disruptive in school, prone to fevers and infections. His mother was a wreck worrying about his health.

She and young Jack attended a Paul Bragg seminar. Mr. Bragg changed Jack’s life. Bragg told them it is not your age that counts, but what matters is your present physical condition.

Bragg explained the importance of eating correctly and exercising. Jack became a convert. What did he have to lose?

During those early years he was his own human laboratory. He studied anatomy and nutrition. He read medical journals and muscle-building magazines. He tried being a vegetarian for a short time and drank vegetable juice.

LaLanne joined the YMCA at age 15 and started to lift weights. He soon built his own gym in his backyard in Berkeley, Calif. He became the quarterback for his high school football team.

LaLanne wanted to understand the human body. He wanted to help it naturally. He became a doctor of chiropractic and learned how the structure of the body affects the function of the body.

LaLanne’s body was not perfect. He had a knee injury in football and after surgery he could not do a full squat.

He wanted to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War II. To avoid doing a squat in the physical exam, he was showing off by doing handstands and one-arm push-ups. He was listed as A1.

LaLanne did not have perfect genes. His father neglected himself and died in his 40s. This is a great example of how lifestyle can determine your health more than your genetic code.

At age 21, LaLanne opened the first modern gym. He had a number of gyms across the country bearing his name.

He started a television exercise show in 1951, and it ran for 36 years. He came into your living room to make you healthier. He kept his show straightforward and simple. Usually his only prop was a kitchen chair.

I encourage you to go online to YouTube and watch his shows. He often talks of sugarholics and obesity in children. He was ahead of his time.

LaLanne’s principles for vibrant health have stood the test of time. He often said, “Exercise is king, nutrition is queen and the two together make a kingdom.”

LaLanne taught us to exercise daily by stretching, lifting weights and doing cardiovascular exercises. He also taught us about nutrition. If man has modified it, do not to eat it. He wanted us to eat wholesome, organic fruits and vegetables with lean protein.

He talked about drinking clean water and maintaining good posture. He was a firm believer is staying motivated and enthusiastic about life. Wear a smile on your face.

He was married for over 60 years to his wife, Elaine.

His purpose in life was to help you live a better life.

Dr. Robert Lynch is a former president of the Maine Chiropractic Association and head of the Lynch Chiropractic Center in South Portland. “Staying in the Game” appears every other Thursday in the Press Herald.