WASHINGTON, DC -- Trading in his glittery tank top and striped shorts for a suit and tie, famed fitness guru Richard Simmons spoke at a hearing before Congress on Thursday, urging the House Education and Labor Committee to expand physical education in public schools.
“Everyone is not a jock,” 60-year-old Simmons said at the hearing. “Everyone cannot play sports. Everyone cannot run. But everyone can be fit.”
When he graduated from high school in New Orleans, Simmons tipped the scales at 268 pounds. He said he was later “bitten by the sweat bug” and became a fitness advocate, producing 50 fitness videos that have sold more than 20 million copies. He also is the author of nine books and three cookbooks.
During the hearing, Simmons spoke about the obesity epidemic in children.
“There’s a statistic that says our children will not live as long as their parents,” Simmons said. “What have we done?”
Simmons also took a jab at President Bush’s No Child Left Behind education policy, saying, “The No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to make our children well-rounded. Well, it made them rounded, and we have to change that.”
Everybody needs to perform three forms of exercise: cardio, strength training and stretching, Simmons told Congress, and everybody can use exercise to feel better about themselves.
“When you’re feeling great about yourself, when you have self-esteem and self-respect for yourself, there isn’t nothing you can’t do,” he said at the hearing.
After the hearing, Simmons traded in his suit and tie for his normal workout attire and led Congressional staff members in a workout on the terrace of the Cannon House Office Building.