Behind the Cover, with Jillian and Jack

By Christian Adrian Brown

Without a doubt, my two favorite fitness personalities—one modern, one classic—have to be Jillian Michaels and Jack LaLanne. They come from wildly different eras and social climates. They are dissimilar in many ways. And yet, at their core, they share an aspect of military charisma and command. You want your life to change? Start changing it. Grab your sneakers and get moving. What’s so unique about these two is that it’s not just a persona they exhibit, it’s a personality trait. There’s a part of their genome or psychology that’s programmed to push forward when most of us quit. And the authenticity of their drive is infectious, to the tune of inspiring millions to sweat, grit their teeth and challenge their bodies, minds and spirits.

Because I’m not a television-watcher, I was actually introduced to each of these celebrities, and authors, through their literary body of work. Jillian has been responsible for writing (or having had ghostwritten) multiple books on the metabolism, various workouts, maternity, and dietary advice. Many of her articles I’d read in the break room while I was a fitness manager at Goodlife, years and years ago. Later on, I collected her books for both continued learning and entertainment.

Her no-nonsense charm surely affected my own development and honed my brand of coaching, which is in a similar vein to hers. I practice what I preach and I don’t preach snake-oil promises or quick fixes to health. You want to lose weight, you most likely need to move, excessively and regularly. She never seemed to follow the diet trends, which swing like a pendulum from feast, to famine, carbs to no carbs, and provide no consistency or routine for people to follow. She’s one of the few in recent years who was openly outspoken against keto (and the negative effects of prolonged carbohydrate deficiency are now beginning to emerge in the dietary and clinical fields). Pills and fitness shortcuts without caveats— some of which can be lethal—do not exist. You need to treat your body as you would treat an instrument, an expensive sports car, or those shiny Louis Vuitton heels (pick whatever analogy applies to your personal lifestyle).

However, she wasn’t the first celebrity to espouse this simple wisdom. Jack LaLanne, aka the Juiceman, was peddling a similar brand in the 1960s and earlier. Jack started his transformational journey at a low point in his life. He described himself as a junkfood-junkie until he hit his teens, where he decided—at an age where so many of us struggle to find a compass or to make sound decisions—to turn his life around before it fell off the tracks. The man was decades ahead of the commercialization of fitness, and one of the first to break into that market with his revolutionary juice machines and his theatrical displays of derring-do such as towing 70 boats for over a mile with only his sheer strength. Jack was a pioneer of modern sensibilities, too, and encouraged both women and the elderly toward fitness. A shameless showman and man of infinite energy, he also somehow found the time to write several books and to host The Jack LaLanne Show: an exercise program that ran for over 30 years.

The man was active even into his 90s. Yes, 90s. He’s living proof that the science behind longevity and self-care is sound, and simple. His outspokenness against sugars, processed foods, excess fats and excess in general have been proven true through modern medicine. What made him unique, as with Jillian, was his commitment to helping people through giving them the advice that was sometimes tough to hear, but simple in essence to follow.

As a culture, we’ve become increasingly tribalistic and generally incapable or intolerant of receiving corrective criticism, or worse, even deducing what is corrective criticism from what is an attack upon us. I believe that each of these celebrities has/had the talent to reach their audience through nearly any medium, through any defensiveness they might present. And I believe that’s because at the heart of it, they each desire the best for those with whom they interact. They’re not opportunists cashing in on fads, they’re coaches and motivators who want to inspire humankind to greatness.

And frankly, that’s just awesome and the exact medicine we need.

Fit Lit | Body, Mind and Quill

Christian A Brown

About the Columnist

Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre changing Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.

April May 2021 Cover Stories

[cm_page_title title=”Continue Reading” subtitle=” Shelf Unbound”]

Article originally Published in the April / May 2021 Issue: Cover Stories.

Continue Reading.