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Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne pumps his fist after receiving an award from then California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, in December 2008. ((Reuters))

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who inspired television viewers to trim down and pump iron decades before exercise became a national obsession, has died at age 96.

His agent, Rick Hersh, said LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast.

Hersh said LaLanne ate healthily and exercised every day of his life until the end.

LaLanne credited fitness with transforming his life as a teen and he worked over the next eight decades to transform others' lives too.   

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He said, "The only way you can hurt the body is not use it."

LaLanne's workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the 1970s. He maintained a youthful physique into his 80s.