On Saturday, nearly a month after LaLanne turned 90, friends gathered to honor him near the Muscle Beach that LaLanne and his bodybuilding colleagues made famous in the 1940s.
"I'm so flattered and honored," LaLanne said before a luncheon began at the Hotel Casa Del Mar. "Who the heck am I? I'm just a guy trying to help people."
LaLanne later became a household name by hosting a television exercise show that ran from 1951-85, and by performing outrageous feats such as towing boats while swimming across Long Beach Harbor handcuffed.
"This was an incredible place," LaLanne said of Muscle Beach. "I was living in San Francisco and would drive all night to get here for the weekend, then perform acrobatic tricks on the beach. People would come from all over to see us; we were teaching kids how to get their bodies and minds active."
The party was attended by celebrities such as David Carradine and Lou Ferrigno, and followed similar celebrations in recent weeks in New York and San Francisco, where LaLanne was born Sept. 26, 1914.
LaLanne, who was dressed in a tight, pinstriped suit that revealed his lean, lithe physique, said he celebrated by traveling to France to visit his parents' birthplace and bought himself a Mercedes convertible.
"You've got to work at living because dying is easy," he said.
"Anything you do in life that's beneficial, that's meaningful. It takes effort," he said. "If you can't afford a half hour three or four times a week taking care of the most priceless possession, your body, you've got to be sick. You're stupid."
LaLanne said he still works out two hours a day.
"It's a pain in the backside. I hate to work out. I hate it but I like the results," he said Saturday.
In a 1991 interview, he said he invented most of the equipment now found in gyms in 1936-8.
"I had the first weight selector, the first leg extension, the first leg curl, the first calf machine. All the pulley machines, all of those," he said. "Every month I would invent a new piece of equipment."
Saturday, he said he's not done yet.
"I want to swim from Catalina Island to Los Angeles under water."