Richard Simmons is still going strong after 35 years in fitness, and he's coming to Chicago for the Club Industry show to inspire attendees to keep making a difference in the lives of others. At age 62, Simmons believes in encouraging people to lose weight and live healthier lives — even health club owners.
“You know what I've found with the fitness industry and how paradoxical this is?” Simmons asks. “A lot of people who own gyms, who are in the fitness industry, they, too, need to be inspired.”
Simmons plans to inspire delegates during his keynote address at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. He'll even bring some audience members onstage to work out with him.
“I'm going to run in the room and greet everybody to music,” Simmons says of his keynote address. “And I'm going to do a little warm-up. And then I actually bring groups of people on the stage. We'll do a couple of minutes onstage with each group. It's lots of fun, and it gets everyone involved.”
After the quick workout, Simmons plans to discuss his history in the fitness industry and talk about his club, Slimmons, in Beverly Hills, CA.
“It's almost called ‘Through the Doors of Slimmons’ because everything happened to me when I opened that club,” he says. “I got ‘General Hospital’ from that club, I got the ‘Richard Simmons Show,’ I got my DVDs, my videos, my books. All the people that I met walking through the doors of Slimmons helped create who I am today.”
After more than three decades at the club, Simmons says his classes are busier now than ever before. Sometimes, 120 to 130 students attend the classes he teaches at Slimmons. He credits several online initiatives with the increased attendance. In addition to a Facebook and Twitter page, Simmons hosts an online clubhouse on his website (www.richardsimmons.com) that serves as a social networking support group for people trying to lose weight.
Helping people achieve their goals is a big reason Simmons keeps teaching. The obesity epidemic and the recession also make him feel like he should be there for people who are having a tough time staying healthy.
“Women write me that they have two and three jobs and they're single parents. It's hard,” he says. “And they're trying to find a second job or they're so busy they don't have the time to [exercise]. But that's why I keep going around and teaching classes all these years and saying, ‘Hey, you've got to make time for this because, unfortunately, you can't buy it, and no one can make time for you.’”
Simmons even finds time in his busy schedule to personally call students and pump up their motivation levels. He likes to call people who have fallen off the fitness wagon and encourage them to exercise, as well as congratulate those who reached a weight-loss goal.
“Oh, it's a support system,” he says. “A lot of people don't have support at home. My clubhouse on my website and my club are all about interacting and boosting people's self esteem — making them feel good about themselves so they can achieve things in other areas of their lives.”