Fitness guru and aerobicizer extraordinaire Richard Simmons is speaking out against allegations that he's being held against his will in his LA home. On Sunday, March 13, he spoke to ET executive producer Brad Bessey over the phone, assuring Bessey that he has not been kidnapped, he's just "in [his] home."
Suspicions arose after Simmons, now 67, retreated from the spotlight in late 2013 (his last public appearance was at a local holiday concert on December 13 of that year). He has not traveled or taught at Slimmons Studio since—or been seen in public at all—and friends and loved ones have expressed confusion and concern at Simmons' reticence and refusal to answer their calls or emails. On Saturday, March 12, the New York Daily News published an "investigative" piece stating that Simmons' live-in housekeeper of three decades, Teresa Reveles, along with Simmon's brother Lenny and his manager Michael Catalano, have been controlling Simmons, keeping him medicated, in bed and cut off from the outside world.
It sounds a little crazy (especially considering The Daily News' main source is Simmons' friend Mauro Oliveira, who's written a self-published "living fairy tale" about his suspicions called King Rich and the Evil Witch). But it wouldn't be the first time an aging and mentally unstable celeb has been taken advantage of by those around him—remember Eugene Landy and Brian Wilson??
However, Simmons is now publicly (kind of—we still haven't seen him) refuting any rumors. "No one should be worried about me. The people that surround me are wonderful people who take good care of me." Simmons says he's simply taking some "me" time after 40 years of traveling and teaching. He also cites a knee injury that's been keeping him home and recuperating. (Said knee injury didn't occur until November 2014, according to ET.) In addition to defending his caretakers, he also defended his health against rumors that he's been reclusive due to putting on some pounds. "I still weigh 150," Simmons says. "I work out every day, I have a gym here at the house. And I'm very healthy." We hope so, Richard!