The Real Reason Richard Simmons Disappeared Is Tragic – Where Is He Now?
In the age of social media fitness influencers, Richard Simmons stands out as the O.G. and his legacy remains rock solid despite his disappearance from the spotlight
Often noted for his candy-striped bicycle shorts and bedazzled tank tops, Richard Simmons is a fixture in American fitness and pop culture. For more than four decades, the 74-year-old fitness guru and entrepreneur has been featured on television shows, cookbooks and of course, is the face behind the world famous L.A fitness studio Slimmons.
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But in 2014, Simmons almost seemed to disappear completely. This is a man whose boundless energy, inclusivity, and upbeat personality saved thousands, yet who was there to save him in his time of need?
A Friend Reaches Out to Richard Simmons Through a Podcast
Filmmaker Dan Taberski’s released the “Missing Richard Simmons“ podcast in February 2017. Taberski’s simply wanted to track down his old friend after Simmons one day mysteriously stopped showing up to the workout class he taught for over 40 years. Simmons fell off the grid, stopped teaching any exercise classes, and even cut off his closest friends. The podcast explores the theories of Simmons’ disappearance and goes as far as talking to friends and family members of the workout guru.
Simmons was quick to respond to the buzz surrounding the podcast, and he took the opportunity to address his fan base via his spokesperson to People magazine. In his statement, Simmons says:
“Hello to everyone who has shown concern for me and sent their good wishes. You will never know how much it means to me. Aren’t you sick of hearing and reading about me?! LOL Well by now you know that I’m not ‘missing,’ just a little under the weather. I’m sure I will be feeling good and back home in a couple of days…”
Richard Simmons is Back in the Spotlight
In August 2022, TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons was released and fueled more speculation about the fitness guru’s disappearance. While the documentary explored some far-out theories, (including one that suggested Simmons was being held hostage in his Hollywood Hills home by his housekeeper), the real explanation was finally revealed. Simmons simply suffered a knee injury.
A doctor in the documentary said, “Around the time he disappeared, he needed a left knee replacement,” he continued, “If he didn’t get one, he might never be able to exercise again.” Apparently, the possibility of surgery and living a sedimentary life caused Simmons to sink into a deep depression.
Richard Simmons once again took the opportunity to squash any sort of wild rumors sparked by the documentary. His rep, Tom Estey released a statement, “Richard is eternally grateful for the continuous outpouring of love and gratitude he has received from across the Globe. He is happy, healthy and living the life he has chosen to live.”
What Happened to Richard Simmons’ Knee?
Simmons’ knee troubles began in 2014 and apparently, he required replacements for his right and left knees but the operation on his right knee was painful and delayed replacing his left knee. As far as sources know, to this day, Simmons still hasn’t received corrective surgery on his left knee and he needs a cane to walk. Simmons has never been the same person since.
Simmons has always been concerned with his legacy and image. The documentary claims that Simmons wants to be remembered as a “vibrant, healthy man,” and not “an elderly man with medical problems.”
A Legacy of Fitness and Inclusivity
The flamboyant, frizzy-haired fitness guru did not have an easy start. He was born and raised in New Orleans and from a very early age, he began over-eating and eventually became overweight. Simmons’ obesity took a negative toll on his self-worth. In an emotional interview from the 1980s, Simmons says, “I went through a lot of hurt as a child. I was the largest child in school. At the age of 15, I was 200 pounds. I went to my first Halloween party dressed as a couch. I was the one made fun of. I felt very bad about myself.”
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Simmons relocated to Los Angeles in his early 20s and noticed that most fitness clubs were targeting people who were already fit. This is when he decided to make it his personal mission to create a fitness environment open to people of all shapes and sizes.
It wasn’t long before word got out about Simmons’ eccentric and unconventional fitness classes and he began selling workout tapes. To this day, Simmons has sold around 65 million tapes, DVDs, and cassettes. His best selling fitness tape, “Sweatin’ To The Oldies” grossed more than $200 million.
Fitness enthusiasts across the globe have looked up to Richard Simmons for health and fitness motivation and there’s no doubt why. He opened the door for people of all shapes and sizes to achieve their goals and better their lives, and in doing so, he has created a legacy that few could ever replicate.