I'm not quite sure how I'm supposed to accurately describe what happened this morning. I just don't think I can do it justice. But hopefully, you'll read this post and be inspired to do this yourself. Only then can you understand the fun, the excitement, the hilarity...
...of working out with Richard Simmons.
It turns out Richard teaches aerobics classes (called "Sweat" class) in Beverly Hills three times a week. I don't know why there aren't billboards advertising this and spotlights shining and parades going by. I don't know why there isn't a wait list to get in the class. He's a legend to anyone who spent time in the 1980's. After the class, my friend Ari and I were driving on Melrose and we saw a slew of paparazzi and fans at Kitson for Nicole Ritchie. Ari goes, "Really? All of this for Nicole Ritchie? We saw Richard Simmons today!!" My thoughts exactly. How can you stand in line for Nicole Ritchie and not get excited for Richard Simmons? This studio is the best kept secret in LA.
According to his website, Richard was moved by an experience he had in the 70's when an overweight woman was denied access to a gym. Their excuse was insurance risk, but basically, she wasn't hot enough to work out in their fancy LA gym. Richard was indignant and said to the woman, "I saw what happened inside, Ma'am, and it just was NOT right! Here's my card. I intend to open my own exercise studio, and, I promise, you will be welcome there, any time!" And so was born Slimmons.
In case you maybe got dropped on your head when you were a baby and can't figure out why the studio is called Slimmons, Richard kindly spells it out for us (um, literally) on his site: "I took my own last name, "Simmons," and added the "L" to make "Slimmons."
Here's where the description is going to get kind of dodgy. It's impossible to explain his energy. I walked in, early, as I thought I might make a trip to the bathroom before we started. Unfortunately, everyone else had that idea too, so I was waiting in line, trying to be respectful of the class he had before the Sweat class I was going to (it was a discussion class - they were all sitting on the floor taking about being positive and such), when he stands up and yells, "Let's sweat!!"
Just at that moment the disco ball started (did I mention there's a disco ball?), the doors opened, people flooded in, and Britney Spears' "Circus" started pumping through the speakers.
A girls dance troupe had come from out of town, so it was me and my friends, several older women (one lady had to be in her 70's), some skinny people, some heavier people, a smattering of men, and a bunch of these young dance girls in turquoise shirts.
There was no welcome, no introduction, no agenda laid out. We all just scrambled for a spot and started doing grapevines with Richard Simmons.
It. was. awesome.
I was about to describe all the fun dance moves and laughing and singing, but I just remembered I never mentioned that he was wearing short shorts and a tank top with a glittering bird on it.
I think it's important that you get the visual. Packed room, turquoised children, heavy older women, disco ball, glitter. Got it?
Ok. So we're grapevining, and walking like Egyptians, and clapping, and jumping invisible rope, and there are arms everywhere, and we're stretching and bumping into strangers, and all of the sudden the whole room is singing along to "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" and we're crossing ourselves, and Richard is telling us to do it pretty or he'll turn off the lights and close the doors and make us play Anne Frank, and by this time it's pretty clear he has a crush on my friend Ari, and then we all get in a circle and Richard starts pulling people out to do dances down the center, and he starts "Love shack" over again because we were working out too hard to sing it well and he thought it was insulting to the B-52s, and then there's a scramble for weights and we were toning and then we're on our backs thrusting into the air and doing push-ups and we're sweating and sweating and sweating...
I've never had so much fun. My friend Ari said it best, "I had a smile on my face the entire time."
It was outlandish and crazy and everything someone who is averse to working out needs. I have to give props to Mr. Simmons for the energy and heart he puts into helping making other people healthy. He is truly something special.
Class is over at this point, but then he sits us all down so we can watch the dance troupe that came do a routine based on Richard Simmons. Here's a picture of Richard watching the dance-girl Richard:
We clapped and cheered and Richard told us he loved us and would stay for pictures. Which, of course, we got:
We thanked him and he thanked us and I was trying to tell him how amazing the class was (I have never ever before enjoyed working out and I have the belly to prove it and it was really nice to exercise and have a fun time and get cheered on), but he was busy talking to Ari and telling him to come back or it would break his heart because he had a crush on him. (I knew it!)
Honestly, it was the best $12 I ever spent.
I'm totally having my birthday party there.