The original Mr Motivator - who performed amazing feats of strength well into his sixties - has died at home in California

Jack LaLanne, the man credited with popularising fitness in America, died from respiratory failure on Sunday 23 January aged 96.

He was the first man to have a workout programme on American television, called ‘The Jack LaLanne Show’ and created the first chain of gyms with weight machines of his own invention.

Among his many achievements, LaLanne became famous for towing boats over extraordinary distances with his hands handcuffed and his feet shackled.

In 1974, aged 60, he swam in handcuffs from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco with a 71-stone boat tied to his waist (above).

Five years later he towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan, which were filled with 460 stone of Louisiana wood pulp.

For his 70th birthday, he towed 70 boats with 70 people in them 1.5 miles against the current in Long Beach, California Harbor.

Jane Fonda, one of the many celebrities to follow in LaLanne’s footsteps, paid tribute to him on her Twitter feed: “He began America’s fitness movement with his iconic TV show, great body, one-piece jump suit and friendly, motivating manner. A great man!”