My cousin Richard

Richard Simmons: A True Force of Nature

After 30 years of hearing stories from my father and mother about my famous family member, I decided to look him up.

I sent Richard Simmons a short email introducing myself.

He emailed right back!  You may not find it surprising, that he writes his emails in ALL CAPS and uses ITALICS for emphasis.

He invited me to come take a class at his exercise studio, Slimmons, in Beverly Hills.

So on Saturday, September 1 I arrived at Slimmons to experience my cousin in action.  I signed up for the free discussion group class and the 90-minute Sweaty Aerobics class.

While awaiting Richard’s arrival, the woman seated next to me introduced herself.  Rachel said she’s been coming to Richard’s classes 3 times each week for 3 years, and has lost 25 pounds.

I told her it was my first time and she said, “Well then, you are in for a treat!”

Then Richard made his entrance – complete with crystal-studded workout top and rhinestone Elton John glasses.

With 15-20 people seated on the floor in a circle for the discussion group, he went to each person and greeted them.  Most were regulars.  One woman brought her mom with her for the first time, and I was new.

I introduced myself, and he was kind and gracious – introduced me to the class.

Richard is known for his show-biz, high-energy antics.  But I was most impressed by the real impact he is making in the lives of the people there.  What he offers is real and true.  He has a way of connecting with people in a personal way – encouraging them, making them laugh, and making them sweat.

At the end of the discussion group, studio the doors flew open. The people rushed in so fast, and there seemed to be thousands of them.

Richard flipped the music on and shouted, “Step, touch, step, touch.”  Then, “Grapevine!”

For the whole 90 minutes of Sweaty Aerobics, his attention never shifted. He was focused on us.  “Do your best!” he screamed at a few of the newbies hiding in the back.

At 64 years old, he appears to be in excellent shape.  We worked up a mean sweat in this Sweaty Aerobics, and Richard did all the moves alongside us, plus deejayed the music, AND let out joke after joke after joke.

Two words come to mind, “Pure joy.”

The class participants ranged from 16 to maybe 75 years old.  Some appeared to be young LA performers dressed in short shorts and midriff-baring workout tops.  But the class was very diverse – skinny, fat, old, young, fit, out of shape, all races and backgrounds.

And with Richard’s method of a little bit of disco, a little bit of dazzle and a whole lot of encouragement, the group became as one. When he tells you that you own your body and that it deserves to be treated well, you believe him!

You couldn’t help but smile – and smile big. I mean BIG. BIG!!!!

Richard was passionate, energetic, tough, and really funny.  He doesn’t hesitate to give everyone a dose of inspiration.  Although he doesn’t dole it out like medicine.

He doles it out in the form of pure joy.




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