There was a time when fitness guru Richard Simmons was ubiquitous in pop culture. The eccentric celebrity was featured on game shows, talk shows and late-night TV, frequently appearing as an expert on panels. Simmons was known for his ecstatic personality, and he would occasionally have public meltdowns and freakouts.
But all has been quiet on the Simmons front in the last few years, until his Monday interview on the Today show. Friends and acquaintances had apparently been concerned about his health, after a New York Daily News story reported Simmons as “gaunt,” and claimed his housekeeper Teresa Reveles was controlling his life.
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” Simmons, 67, told Today host Savannah Guthrie during the interview. “You know, I do what I want to do as I’ve always done, so people should just believe what I have to say because I’m Richard Simmons!”
As for the accusations regarding Reveles, Simmons didn’t mince words.
“That’s just very silly,” he said. “Teresa has been with me for 30 years. It’s almost like we’re a married couple.”
Simmons has largely stayed out of the limelight since a 2014 knee injury, and says it was his decision to withdraw from public life.
“I just wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a little while,” Simmons said. “You know, I had hurt my knee, and I had some problems with it, and then the other knee started giving me trouble because I’ve taught like thousands and thousands of classes, and you know right now I just want to take care of me.”
Simmons obviously feels fatigue from the intensity of Hollywood scrutiny, and has written in the past about his personal struggles with depression and body image.
“I just really don’t want to do anything, you know,” he said. “I just don’t want to be travelling anymore. It certainly has taken its toll on me, so it was not like over a day, it was just over some time. When you’re an overweight kid and you’re made fun of and you’re put down, some of that stuff never leaves you,” he said. “It’s always like a shadow, like Peter Pan.”
But the outgoing personality insists his health is fine, and he’s not depressed; his sabbatical from the spotlight is strictly for his own good, he asserts.
“For all the people that were worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with my whole heart and soul and that not to worry, Richard’s fine,” he said. “You haven’t seen the last of me. I’ll come back, and I’ll come back strong.”