Okay, Let’s Talk About Richard Simmons

It’s been quiet around here lately, but I don’t think I can stay quiet about Richard Simmons any longer. I had mixed feelings about discussing him here, so I just didn’t. Thinking of him makes my heart swell with sadness, but after the media reports that surfaced last week I think it’s time speak up.

Richard went into hiding, or something two years ago, and I miss the man I’ve adored most of my life. Even as a kid, before I thought of myself as overweight/plus-sized, I admired him because of his love for people. And many years later, when I wrote him an open letter on my blog, his response was prompt and overwhelming. I never thought that the larger-than-life fitness icon would care that I wrote him a letter, so I was blown away when I received the first of many emails only a few days later.

At the time I was at the top of my weight-loss game, but everything slowly began to crumble when the pesky airline made me feel like I was as worthless as they thought I was. Regardless, I got on a plane and flew to Los Angeles to take a class with him at Slimmons, and those workouts were among the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. (It was so cool, in fact, that I thought it was a good idea to move to Beverly Hills just to be close enough to exercise with him regularly, so I did.)

Richard Simmons

Richard made me feel like anything was possible, but even more importantly, he made me feel like I was lovable just like I was. (I hadn’t discovered that yet.)

Richard Simmons and Kenlie at Slimmons

When he went into seclusion he stopped emailing people he communicated with regularly (myself included.) At first, I wondered if I had unknowingly offended him. I wondered if he had given up on me since I was struggling with my weight again, but several months later I learned that it wasn’t me at all.

There was a sign at his studio saying that he’d be back next month, which became the next month and the next month…I soon learned that he stopped responding to my friends like KeepItUpDavid, who were in constant contact with him as well, and months later no one had heard anything from him.

Richard SImmons and KeepItUpDavid and Kenlie

TMZ reached out to my at one point last year, but I refused to talk. The Today Show used footage from when I worked out at Slimmons for the first time to tell viewers that Richard had resurfaced, but that wasn’t true either.

Richard Simmons Kenlie Today Show

There’s been radio silence from Richard until last week when he called in for an interview with Today. It was such a relief to hear his voice that I shed tears for a moment at my desk. At the same time I was sad to hear his quiet, almost calculated words. He sounded sad, which made me sad.

I don’t know what he’s going through. (I have some theories, but I won’t be elaborating on them.) He has the right to live his life privately if that’s what he wants to do.  I just want him to be happy, and I hope he knows that no matter what, I love him, I’m praying for him, I miss him, and I hope I see his face again someday.

 

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Kath
    March 21, 2016 at 7:15 am

    I had no idea he was taking time out till last week when I saw something from Enrertainment tonight shown here in Australia

    I immediately thought of you as I remembered your blogs about him and the pic you shared

    I do hope he is ok and contacts you again

    You have also been on my mind a lot as you have been quiet

    Trust is all ok with you
    Praying for you

    Kathie

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    • Reply
      Kenlie
      April 2, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      I hope he’s okay too. i’m doing well, Kath. Thank you so much for thinking of me. I’m just so busy that I don’t always take time to blog. I’m going to do my best to connect here a few times a week because I really miss you all. I hope you’re doing well too!

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  • Reply
    Debbie Lopresti
    March 21, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    I did two classes at Slimmons many years ago. My daughter lived in California at the time and I made it a point to visit and take classes there. Richard was so welcoming and supportive. I have some pictures with him as well. He encouraged me to keep him posted on my efforts. I did
    and he responded but I am still struggling like many. He is a kind caring person and I am sorry that he has removed himself from the public but he should be given the privacy and the respect that he deserves. He is a good person and I pray that all is well with him.

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    • Reply
      Kenlie
      April 2, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      I absolutely agree with you even though I miss him like crazy.

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  • Reply
    Kathleen McCoy
    March 21, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I so hope he is okay and will re-emerge someday soon to continue to inspire us all. He really is such a good person!

    I haven’t had the ongoing relationship with him that you have had, but many years ago — in 1982, in fact — I was the featured guest on his television show. The particular episode was about Teenage Depression (I had written a book about it for a major publisher). Being on his show was part of my national book tour and, of all the t.v. hosts I worked with nationwide, he was the best! He had actually read my book and gave the subject matter very caring treatment. And, of all the hosts, he was the kindest. Some don’t even want to talk to you off-camera if you’re not a celebrity, but he was wonderful.

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    • Reply
      Kenlie
      April 2, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      I hope he reemerges someday too. He is wonderful, and even though he’s the famous one, he made me feel like a rock star when we appeared on TV together.

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  • Reply
    David
    April 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Don’t know why it took me so long to read this. Thanks for sharing. Love and miss you!

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