Richard Simmons

The Next Family

By: Brandy Black
Justin, Susan, Alberto, Richard Simmons and me
Last Saturday, two of our closest friends, Justin and Alberto, took us to a Richard Simmons class in Beverly Hills. It was a gift for Susan’s birthday. When they told us what they had in store for us, we didn’t know what to expect. Does everyone dress up in their best 80’s attire and laugh their way through the class or is this a serious workout? J&A (this is our joint nickname for “the boys”) paid for our sitter and picked us up at our house, with cold waters sitting in our drink holders in the back of the car. I love gay guys.

When we arrived at the class it was a surprisingly eclectic group. Young hipsters with cameras in hand, people dressed from the 80’s (some intentionally and others not), people of all ages and sizes and a few that I would imagine have been regulars to his class for years.

The energy in the room was buzzing and when the double doors swung open and Pink’s “So what, I’m a Rock star” came blaring through, there was nothing left to do but smile. Richard led us in a dance-filled warm up with many comic asides and a few screeches for emphasis. He was full of life and although I hate cha cha cha-ing my way through a work out class, I have to say it was a blast. I was thrusting and pumping and spinning and clapping and laughing and alas, sweating. Richard spotted us newbie’s right away and actually came over and hugged Susan and me in the middle of class. He had other teachers that would teach in 10-minute segments. One instructor must have been in her late 50’s and another a good 150 pounds overweight, but they never missed a beat. They were vibrant and agile and gave us all a great work out. It was nice to see Richard embracing all people at all levels. I didn’t expect an iconic Hollywood celebrity trainer to be so real.

When the class was near the end Richard blared “Thriller” and led us in a “jazz hands”, toe-tapping, campy cool down. He ended the class with a brief lesson on the word “respect”. I imagine he chooses a word each class and spends 5 minutes re-setting your intentions for your day, your week or your life. In a quiet tone, he told us we need to respect the elderly, the homeless, our families and most importantly ourselves. He talked about having respect for our bodies and our lives and all of the people around us. He was serious for the first time. He spoke from his heart and came from a place of true understanding of human nature. I had expected a “performance” of sorts and instead got a real person who in his boisterous, funny loud nature has a heart of gold. I get why Hollywood and people around the country love Richard Simmons; he’s the real deal.

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