I like going to Slimmons, even though Richard isn’t there, because it’s an important place for me. My life changed for the better in that room, and I like honoring that, because Richard is a dear friend, and he helped me lose 160 pounds. I’ve kept it off going on five years now.
Two days after I took that photo, I learned about a brand-new article about Richard Simmons in the National Enquirer. And, to be perfectly honest, I was happy to hear about it. I’m familiar with the reputation that tabloids have, but in this situation, I believe in the old saying: There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Spreading awareness of what’s going on could lead to more information, and that’s what most frustrating about this situation: no one knows how Richard is doing, and we’re worried.
Richard’s disappearance from the public eye has lasted nearly two years. Two years where he hasn’t taught a class, shown up at an event, been photographed by paparazzi, or appeared on TV. His social media accounts are still active, but the content is recycled old photos and videos, probably posted by someone by his team. There was a two sentence quote from him in a press release in October, promoting a ‘Rock Your Richard’ Halloween costume/charity campaign, but apart from that, it’s been radio silence. That press release mentioned that Richard “is absent from the public scene due to a nagging knee injury,” which has been the official story for two years.
What wasn’t mentioned is that Richard abruptly severed communication with multitudes of friends, students, staffers, and fans. He stopped returning emails and phone calls, and hasn’t set foot in his own fitness studio in almost two years.
That’s basically the point of the new National Enquirer story. It’s not available online (yet?), and I’m not going to type it up here. You can find it for yourself – the 12/14/15 issue, page 21, with Brad and Angelina on the cover. [Update: The article is now online, read it here.]
It’s pretty tame and straightforward, especially for a tabloid. The article provides no new information whatsoever. It quotes a neighbor who says they haven’t seen Richard for two years, says his absence is uncharacteristic, and that they’re worried.
It also quotes “an employee” – although it doesn’t specify whose employee – that talks about Slimmons: “Hardly anyone goes there. There are only a few devout, elderly members of the gym.”
Hey, that’s me! I’m a member of his gym, and have been going for almost six years! And, according to the National Enquirer, I’m… ELDERLY! How bizarre – I feel like I’m still 36.
The final paragraph is another quote from a neighbor: “We love him and we miss him. We are waiting for him.”
Well said. Here’s the thing, folks. Things change. These past two years, with Richard off the grid, is certainly proof. I don’t expect him to come back in the same way he has before. He was a ridiculously accessible celebrity who popped up on TV shows regularly, taught three times a weeks in Slimmons, maintained phone and email relationships with hundreds of devotees across the country. I’d be tired after doing that for forty years, too.
What’s frustrating is the silence. The lack of closure. Richard, if you’re ready to retire (or have already retired), then let us know. Say something. Tell us you’re all right, taking some “me time,” living a more laid-back life, or whatever. We want to stop worrying about you. And we’re going to love and support you no matter what.
My caption from that selfie in front of Slimmons is a fitting way to wrap this up. “Hard to believe it’s been nearly 2 years since Richard Simmons has been to his own exercise studio, but it’s true. Hope he’s happy and healthy. His absence certainly isn’t stopping me from getting my workout done!”
Richard always advocated exercise, no matter what’s going on, because it’s good for you and makes you feel good. And I listened. I’m doing it.
Keep it up, David!