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Qualifications: Has taught aerobics and exercise for 27 years.
Personal History: I was overweight my entire childhood. In college, I finally topped out at 268 lbs. Unfortunately, this problem initially pushed me to drastic measures - diet pills, laxatives, and self-imposed starvation. These efforts finally put me in the hospital. In 1973, I was introduced to aerobic dance and I finally prevailed over my weight problem. Since then, I've set out to bring health to the people who need it most.
Thirty years and 3,000,000 pounds later, Richard Simmons is still going strong. Using his unique wit, passion and enthusiasm, Simmons, the nation’s most revered fitness expert, continues his crusade to reach out to the masses, encouraging them to take control of their fitness destiny. Delivering a serious message with his trademark humor, Simmons has helped millions of overweight men and women lose more than 3,000,000 pounds by adopting sensible balanced eating programs and exercise regimes that are energetic, fun and motivating.
Growing up in the French quarter of New Orleans, where lard was a food group and dessert mandatory, Richard weighed 268 pounds when he graduated high school. An entrepreneur at a tender age, Simmons sold pralines on New Orleans street corners where he learned to charm and entertain his customers. After trying everything from bizarre diets to laxatives, Simmons took control of his weight by adopting a lifestyle of balance, moderate eating and exercise.
Simmons prevailed in his own weight battle before relocating to Los Angeles in 1973. There was no significant fitness movement in this country at the time, and to no avail, Simmons attempted to find a health club that wasn’t for people who were already in shape. After traversing LA, and unable to find a facility welcoming people of all shapes and sizes, his only alternative was to create that safe haven. In 1974, after consulting with doctors and nutritionists to ensure the safety of a program tailored to the needs of everyone, from the overweight and obese, to seniors and the physically challenged, a determined Simmons established an innovative place where the overweight of the world were welcomed with open arms. This program was met with instant success and continues today at SLIMMONS in Beverly Hills, where Richard still teaches. While many of his legions of fans are overweight, he resonates with everyone, including anyone who has just a few pounds to lose and wants to be fit.
Simmons’ success as a fitness expert and advocate led to numerous local and national television and radio appearances including a four-year run on “General Hospital”, followed by his own nationally syndicated series, “The Richard Simmons Show”. The show ran for four years and received several Emmy Awards.
Knowing that exercise and weight loss regimes must go hand-in hand, Simmons has created a series of products that integrate the two components. Deal-A-Meal and the FoodMover help people keep track of calories and portions. His 65 fitness videos, which have sold over 20 million copies, pair lively music, with rockin’ routines and Simmons’ humorous banter and encouragement. With titles that include “Sweatin’ to the Oldies”, “Dance Your Pants Off”, “Party Off the Pounds”, “Disco Sweat”, “Blast Off the Pounds”, “Platinum Sweat”, and “Sit Tight” (a workout designed for people who cannot stand), Richard offers a routine for everyone.
As the author of nine books, including the New York Times Best Seller, “Never Say Diet”, Richard released his autobiography, “Still Hungry-After All These Years” in 1998. He is also the author of three best-selling cookbooks.
Throughout the years Richard still gets his greatest satisfaction from reaching out and literally touching his students. Recognizing that his audience spans all across America, Simmons averages some 250 days on tour each year. Whether it’s a women’s expo, a nursing home, a high school, children’s hospital, shopping mall or corporate seminar, Simmons considers himself fortunate to come face to face with hundreds of thousands of people each year. Concerned about the financial impact of obesity in the workplace, several executive organizations have recently invited Simmons to speak to their members about ways to encourage their workers to lose weight.
Alarmed by the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, Richard helped launch the Fit Kids Bill in Congress with the help of Congressmen Zach Wamp and Ron Kind. The effort is to ensure that physical education classes are reinstated or remain a part of the curriculum in public schools. Richard testified before a congressional committee and spoke of his own personal battle as an overweight child.
Still fighting the fitness battle with humor and enthusiasm, Simmons vows to never give up and promises that he will continue his crusade until it’s time for him to teach classes at the Pearly Gates