Does this building look familiar?
I sweated my buns off for nearly seven years in this building. It was the home to Slimmons, Richard Simmons’ exercise studio – a business he kept running for 42 years, until he closed the doors last November, almost three years after he disappeared from the public eye. A similar photo from the final class:
The building didn’t stay closed for long. A new business opened in the space earlier this year, and it’s called The BOD. The BOD is owned by Kym Herjavec (née Johnson), who is most known as a professional dancer on “Dancing with the Stars.” She’s competed on 15 seasons, and won twice, with Donny Osmond and Hines Ward, and also led Joey Fatone and Warren Sapp to the finals. She was partnered with Robert Herjavec (one of the sharks on “Shark Tank”) a few years ago, and now they’re married.
The BOD offers group fitness and dance classes, personal training, and nutritional coaching. I’ve been curious to attend for quite a while, so I finally went to take one of their signature classes, The BOD: Body of Dance. I didn’t know how I would feel returning to that space.
Everyone there is very friendly, and it was very well staffed on the evening I attended. I met five of the instructors in the lobby before my class, including Kym, who is a lovely woman. We chatted a bit as she ran my credit card. (I paid $25 for the class.)
The renovations Kym made to the space are really quite striking. Gone are Richard’s pastels, hanging upside-down umbrellas, and angled beams – replaced with creamy white walls, gold accents, and… gasp!… two much-needed air conditioning units. The small lobby looks twice as big without all the built-ins and counters that Richard had in there.
The instructor for the Body of Dance class was Brooke. The 55-minute class had two halves. The first half was a rigorous cardio dance workout, and the second half was all toning and sculpting. We used a couple pieces of equipment I hadn’t really used before, like a stretchy silicon band that went around our ankles, making leg lifts tougher. There was also a killer series of exercises that we performed while holding a small ball between our thighs, which was the hardest part of the class.
All in all, it was a challenging workout, and Brooke was an energetic, informative, motivating teacher. It was easy to become absorbed by the exercise we were doing, but I also had fleeting memories popping into my head of the years I spent there when it was Slimmons. Some of those memories were triggered by changes I noticed mid-class (like how the doors between the lobby and main room were replaced, or the stereo is in a new location), and some were triggered by the music Brooke played.
The feelings connected to those bursts of nostaglia were overwhelmingly positive. I spent a lot of time in that room worrying about my friend Richard, voicing my concerns, sharing theories and hopeful speculation, and listening to others process their anger, frustration and pain, but my mind went back to the good times. The hours of joy spent dancing in that room, surrounded by friends, learning from Richard, hearing and embracing his messages of love, kindness, and the importance of taking care of oneself.
I realized, on the drive home, how lucky I was to have had a home-away-from-home like Slimmons for so long. It was a place where I always felt welcomed and peaceful, a judgment-free space where I could exercise without feeling self-conscious or ashamed. It was precisely the place I needed, exactly when I needed it, and I took advantage of that for seven great years.
But it’s gone now. Richard has moved on, and so have I. I’m thankful to have had a home base like Slimmons for those years. I’m appreciative of the friendships that were born there and still thrive today. Slimmons opened my mind to the very notion of even being part of a fitness community, and laid the groundwork for me becoming fully immersed in the stair racing world.
Being a part of a fitness community is something I want everyone to have. Having friends that understand, support, and encourage each other, while pushing each other physically, is such a wonderfully helpful thing. I hope The BOD becomes a catalyst for those sorts of friendships – and who knows, maybe it has already. There are so many things going for it – passionate instructors, an inviting atmosphere, and did I mention those air conditioners?
So will I come back? I have no immediate plans (thanks to some upcoming travel), but I’m open to the idea. Ultimately, I know I can get a great workout at The BOD, and I’m happy to add it to my arsenal of workout options.
Slimmons, in many ways, marked the beginning of a story that I’m still telling today. I hope The BOD plays a similar role in other people’s health and fitness journeys. I don’t think The BOD will occupy the same place in my heart that Slimmons did, but that’s OK. I will continue to evolve, grow, and change, and I don’t want to recreate a time in my past that I know can no longer be. I’d rather make room in my heart for new experiences and possibilities, because I am capable of so very much, and I deserve all the happiness that comes my way.
Keep it up, David!
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