Local fitness experts inspired by Jack LaLanne

The death of fitness celebrity Jack LaLanne has left longtime fans in San Luis Obispo County looking back on childhood memories of 1950s stirrup pants and leg lifts in the living room.

“I remember doing those exercises at my baby sitter’s house in leotards just like he was,” Los Osos Fitness owner Terry Brown said of her preteen years. “He was charismatic and creative. And you can tell he really cared about people’s health. I think he really started something for our baby boomer generation.”

LaLanne, who started television’s first syndicated daily exercise show in the 1950s, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay of respiratory failure caused by pneumonia. He was 96.Group exercise remains among the most popular classes at FitnessWorks in Morro Bay, general manager Ginger Machado said.

“And that’s what he started way back then, is group exercise. But just in front of the TV,” the 47-year-old said.

Brown, 50, said LaLanne’s show laid the groundwork for the rest of her life.

“He absolutely inspired me,” she said. “He really started the conversation that we are responsible for our own health.”

As of 11 p.m. Monday, the story on SanLuisObispo.com of LaLanne’s death had received more than 70 comments from readers praising everything from his graciousness in telling fans hello around town to his posing for photos with their children on an airplane.

LaLanne practiced fitness all his life. Locals remember that in recent years, he and his wife, Elaine, were featured in televised weekly segments on KSBY. They gave fitness tips from their Morro Bay home.