Fitness guru Richard Simmons reports he has 12 appointments set up this week with prospective buyers of his in-the-works reality show. “That’s 12 possible apostles to preach this to,” says the preternaturally buoyant personality. And we can tell you, he’s definitely got his gospel of weight loss all primed and ready to go.
“You know what, if we don’t get a handle on this weight thing, it’s going to be worse than a major earthquake in terms of stress, financial woes and medical problems,” he says. “I call people every day who are afraid to exercise. As you get more overweight, more fears set in. I’m just trying to get people to try again. One more try. All the people who’ve given up, give it one more try. Give it to me. Let me try to turn this around for you.”
Simmons is not a big fan of weight loss reality series on the air now. “Shows where contestants lose enormous amounts of weight each week send the wrong message to America. Then you have people feeling like failures because they don’t lose weight as fast,” believes the 63-year-old, who has devoted the better part of four decades to his quest to help people get into healthy shape — including books, videos, fitness classes, teaching and speaking engagements, 200 days of traveling a year, and lots of non-televised visits to work with morbidly obese and otherwise infirm individuals.
“Now more than ever, people want weight loss to be fast. More human beings are getting their stomachs cut into smaller pouches, or lap-banding it. And I get hundreds of letters saying, ‘It didn’t work.’ It’s not like it’s fool-proof. What’s the big hurry?
“Losing weight is not just about getting to a number. It’s about liking yourself and respecting yourself,” he goes on. “You can lose a great deal of weight, and not starve, and not over-exercise.” And have fun doing it, he stresses. “We’ve forgotten to have fun. Where’s the clown?”
He says he was inspired all over again by attending the memorial of his pal of 30 years, Jack LaLanne — and wants to stay in as great a shape as the fitness pioneer was well into his nineties.
Simmons also says he sent out some 50,000 questionnaires in an effort to get a handle on people’s feelings about being overweight and what to do about it in the current climate. That work informed the show he wants to get in front of viewers’ eyes. It would feature the goings-on at his Beverly Hills Slimmons flagship, where classes have a spectrum of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages, and of course, they have fun.