Where do I even begin to discuss my experience with Richard Simmons? Do I start with the penis jokes that he made towards my friend? Perhaps the inspirational speech he delivered in the middle of class? The Barbies he hands out as prizes? The tears he shed when reading our color aura?
I'll start at the beginning. Slimmons is popular. I mean an hour before class - line out the door -popular. And there are plenty of reasons why. Yes, Richard is an icon. But deservingly so. I knew him from Sweatin to the Oldies which I would flail through in my living room at the age of 10 from a copied VHS tape that someone handed down to me. My friend Gary (who Richard loved, by the way) knew Richard from Howard Stern who, back in the day, had a legendary repertoire with Howard. And now, many know Richard thanks to Slimmons.
Richard is a motivator. He is a comedian. He is a sexual deviant - and people love him for all of this. And now so do I.
Class began in a jam packed, boiling hot, room filled with enthusiasts. I wasn't even really sure what was going on at the start. Things just started happening. I didn't know the moves to make, the actions to take. I was confused with whatever routine was in progress. What I soon realized was - it didn't matter. Part One of his class was a night club in the middle of the day. Everyone was dancing, everyone was moving and that's really all that it was about.
Part 2 of the cardio involved an enormous dance circle, where Richard would call his "little boys and girls" into the circle and make them perform his moves in front of the class, as the class executed them on the side. Everyone ended up in the center of the circle at some point. And every man that was called to the middle was forced to take their shirts off. I felt like I was transported to a very strange strip club...it felt a little... awkward at first. But then something kind of magical happened.
For example - when the first group of guys took off their shirts my friend Gary turned to me and said, "Oh hell no!" But within 30 seconds, his shirt was swinging over his head and Gary was strutting his stuff in the center circle. It was then I realized Richard was doing more than just getting his kicks from these boys - he wasn't just doing this to be funny, or sexual - he was giving people confidence. Making them feel good about their bodies, no matter what their size or shape was. It was, despite being incredibly hilarious, rather touching at it's core. (There was a lot of actual touching as well, but that's a different story.)
After the dance party we retreated to get weights. It was then Richard gave us words of wisdom about purging ourselves of the negative people in our lives who don't believe in us. Cutting them away with the invisible pair of scissors we have been granted with and filling our lives with the supporters. He also told us to make the list of the 5 things we want to accomplish in this lifetime and go after it and make it happen. My list is in progress, Richard!
The lifting part of this class was really great. I enjoyed his routine and the simple moves still burned those muscles. We finished our journey with abs (through which he did impressions, and asked lots of the boys what they were doing later...) and finally we wrapped up the class with a drawing where the winner received part of Richard's precious collection of Barbie dolls, or a free shirt. (The highlight of the day was Gary winning the final prize and getting to have some banter with Richard about his tattoos in front of the whole class.)
Richard stuck around for nearly 45 minutes taking pictures with each and every person who asked. At 65 years old, he is honestly one of the most joyful and amazing people I have ever met. I want to be that full of energy and positivity when I hit that age. He exudes happiness and I can guarantee you, that you will leave Slimmons with a big smile on your face.
For those in the LA area, we will be going again soon - let us know if you are down and we can make a day of it!