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Arnold Schwarzenegger eulogizes Jack LaLanne

By Alan Duke, CNN
Jack LaLanne was remembered by his peers for his achievements to fitness.
Jack LaLanne was remembered by his peers for his achievements to fitness.
  • Lou Ferrigno, Richard Simmons and Denise Austin also speak at his memorial
  • LaLanne started the fitness revolution, MuscleMag's publisher says
  • He invented the modern health club and exercise equipment

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Legendary fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne saved millions of lives by teaching people to eat right and exercise regularly, Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his eulogy for LaLanne on Tuesday.

LaLanne, who died last week at the age of 96, opened the first American health club in Oakland, California, in 1936, MuscleMag publisher Robert Kennedy said.

"This was the start of the fitness revolution we know today," Kennedy said.

LaLanne, who spent decades talking about the benefits of exercise, designed the world's first leg-extension machine, along with several other pieces of equipment now standard in the fitness industry.

"It doesn't matter where you go, there is a health club and it all started with Jack LaLanne," Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder, actor and former California governor, said.

Other fitness celebrities, including Denise Austin, Lou Ferrigno and Richard Simmons, eulogized the man who inspired their careers.

Looking back at Jack LaLanne's career

"I really never cared much for him when I was a kid, because he was everything I wasn't," Simmons said. "He was fit. He ate healthy. He had self-esteem. He had a great little body and I wasn't ready to accept his message."

But when LaLanne appeared on the "Richard Simmons Show" in 1980, they became friends, he said.

"I'm here to pay tribute to a legend, to someone who influenced me and made me a better person," Simmons said.

LaLanne's memorial service at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills on Tuesday afternoon was filled with laughter about LaLanne's evangelical energy in promoting fitness.

"Jack is now in heaven and, of course, that's going to be very annoying for a lot of people up there," Schwarzenegger said. "It's not going to be pretty because we know what's going to happen."

Residents of heaven have a new wake-up call at 6 a.m. and they are doing "thousand of push ups and stretching exercises," Schwarzenegger said.

"The people are in a state of shock because they were promised if they were good, they could rest in peace," he said. "There will be no resting."

He joked that LaLanne is French for "do some push ups, you lazy bastards."

People doubted what LaLanne was promoting in his early years, he said. They warned "you could get heart problems, become a narcissist, turn gay, or it could reduce your sex drive," Schwarzenegger said.

"How do they explain the fact that Charlie Sheen works out every day," he said. "So that's nonsense."

LaLanne swam the San Francisco Bay in handcuffs when he was 41. He set a record of 1,033 push ups in 30 minutes the next year. At age 70, he swam the Long Beach Harbor as he towed 70 boats with 70 people in them.

Schwarzenegger said he first met LaLanne soon after he moved to Venice Beach, California, as a young bodybuilder. The two worked out together and he soon "regretted that."

"I got so pumped up, I couldn't move anymore," he said.

"I said, 'This guy is a machine, he's the real machine,'" he said. "'This guy's a monster, he just keeps going and going and going with the exercising.'"

LaLanne was laid to rest with a weight he was holding in his left hand when he died, said his son, Dan LaLanne.