Jack LaLanne, so-called “godfather of fitness,” died Sunday of respiratory failure due to pneumonia at his home in Morro Bay, CA, according to reports. He was 96.

LaLanne was a fitness pioneer, opening the first of his many exercise studios in 1936. He focused on weight-training at a time when the idea of pumping iron was strictly taboo, especially for women.

“You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights. It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out,” he once said.

Athletic trainers believed bulking up would slow athletes down and women were supposed to look curvy and feminine, not athletic and toned.

“Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer,” LaLanne said.

LaLanne became a household name after he launched a televised exercise program in the 1950s that aired until the 1970s. He would forever after be known for his dedication to healthy living and his signature one-piece belted workout suit.

He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and in
recent years touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped
market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.

“This is a nation of tired people,” he said, in an effort to encourage people to exercise. “Everyone is suffering from that chronic disease that I like to call pooped-out-itis.”

“Inactivity is a killer,” LaLanne once said.  “The only way you can hurt the body is not use it.”

Jack LaLanne's healthy way of living enabled him to perform amazing feats. Just a few are listed below. To find out more about Jack LaLanne visit his official website.

At the age of 60, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf, handcuffed and shackled, towing a thousand pound boat.

At the age of 66, LaLanne towed 10 boats, carrying 77 people for over one mile, in less than one hour.

At the age of 80, LaLanne, handcuffed and shackled, swam 1.5 miles, towing 80 boats, carrying 80 people, from the Queensway Bay Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.

“I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for,” Elaine LaLanne, his wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a statement.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.