Jewish Journal

Shabbat morning workout with Richard Simmons and so much more

by Jay Firestone

March 5, 2010 | 9:54 am

I can do it.  I have the confidence I need to lose those extra pounds.  I’m such a whore.

That, and 500 other things said by Richard Simmons at Birthright Israel Next’s Saturday morning workout two weeks ago.

It was my first experience with the famed physical fitness expert, though quite possibly not the last.

But seriously, what an event!

I can honestly admit that I had no idea of what to expect. 

I arrived in modest attire: an American flag bandana, training shorts (not too short) and a t-shirt.  I didn’t want to appear too bland, but had to show a little flash – it’s Richard freaking Simmons after all.

The group of about 35 joined about 30-40 regulars for a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” workout.  Seriously, all of the music was from the sixties.

“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to”
“My Boyfirend’s Back”

We packed Richard’s facility in Beverly Hills, practically pouring into the street, waiting for the session to begin. 

Richard, dressed in short blue shorts and sequence tank-top, reading “Go to Health,” had been meditating prior to our arrival.  After few hollers from the infamous trainer, we entered the aerobics room and the music immediately blasted. 

I admit, I’m a bit out-of-shape and initially had trouble keeping up the extremely fast-paced music.  I also struggled with the fact that I was actually moving and clapping to sixties music, while at a Richard Simmons class. 

My friends from college would surely have a field day with this. (But, then I remembered that I have done less masculine things before, namely my repressed obsession with American Idol.).

After the musically-inspired warm-up, the group grabbed a bunch of five-pound weights and started the intense workout, as Richard emotionally abused our confidence in that humorous, yet non-threatening manner he’s known for.

When the workout ended, Richard gave a heart-warming speech to the group about how we’re all amazing people and can do anything we want. 

And just when I thought I had seen everything, he lead the group in Shabbat Kiddush and HaMotzi, a unique experience for everyone.

Here’s a few things I took home from that morning.

1) Always look Richard directly in the eye when you talk with him.  He’ll call you out if you don’t.
2) Don’t cheat during the workout.  Crunches mean crunches.
3) Every parody of Richard Simmons is rooted in truth.  This guy is such a character.
4) Richard Simmons is not Jewish, but can do a mean Kiddush.
5) At 61-years-old, this awesome nut hasn’t lost a single step.

After the workout, I went home and watched a Stephen Seagal movie to reaffirm my sense of male dominance.

My favorite parody of Richard: SNL’s “The Little Richard Simmons Show” with Eddie Murphy


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