date published: August 27, 2007

5 questions with...

Richard SimmonsRichard Simmons
by Josh B. Wardrop

Richard Simmons has been a leader of the weight-loss movement for more than three decades. A ubiquitous presence on television thanks to his own syndicated workout show, infomercials and exuberant talk show appearances, the beloved fitness guru still teaches at his L.A. gym, Slimmons, and tours the country lecturing on healthy eating and exercise, including a September 8 appearance in Boston at AARP’s Life @ 50+ event.

Q: What drew you to the AARP event, and what will you be doing there?
Gosh, I’m 59 years old now—I’m a member! In Boston I’ll be leading a morning exercise class and talking about how to maintain good health as you get older.

Q: Your weight loss message—eat less, exercise more—isn’t exactly radical. Why are you so able to reach people?
I’m a court jester, basically. I try to weave a positive spell, and get people to look at life in a less negative manner.

Q: Your fitness crusade is taking you to Capitol Hill these days, correct?
Yes, I’m pushing a bill to get physical education back in schools—almost 85% of schools in America don’t have PE programs, and our kids are getting overweight and diabetic.

Q: How are you and David Letterman getting along these days?
Truthfully, I don’t know the man, but there’s something endearing about him. I love doing his show, but every time I’m on I always say “never again” because he upsets me so much!

Q: Have you spent much time in Boston?
I’ve been here many times, lecturing at conferences and making appearances. I love Boston women—they take no nonsense from their husbands! I won’t be in town long, but I’ll go walking on Boston Common and maybe to the North End. Hopefully, when I die, that’s where it’ll be— during dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant! (laughs)