Despite reports that emerged over the weekend to the contrary, Richard Simmons says that he is not being held inside his home against his will.
Though he hasn’t been out in public for more than two years, the fitness guru broke his silence on Monday’s Today show to ensure friends and fans that he is doing just fine.
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” Simmons, 67, told Savannah Guthrie in a phone interview. “You know, I do what I want to do, as I’ve always done, so people should sort of just believe what I have to say because, like, I’m Richard Simmons!”
The report, which originated from the New York Daily News, claimed that Simmons’ housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, is “an object of suspicion” in Simmons’ so-called disappearance, but he insisted to Today that the idea is “just very silly. Teresa Reveles has been with me for 30 years; it’s almost like we’re a married couple.”
Simmons’ comments were echoed by his rep on Sunday, who referred to the claims as “untrue and preposterous” in a statement to People. “Richard, after 40 years of being in the spotlight, is now simply taking a break from the public eye and working behind the scenes to continue to help those millions of people worldwide in need of his assistance and on several projects to be announced soon,” said Tom Estey.
Though friends who spoke on record maintained in the Daily News‘ report that it’s not in Simmons’ character to withdraw completely, Simmons told Guthrie that he “wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a while,” going on to explain that he is recovering from a knee injury, a result of the “thousands and thousands of classes” he’s taught over the years. “I just sort of want to take care of me,” he added. “I just really don’t want to do anything. I just don’t want to be traveling anymore. It certainly has taken its toll on me.”
And to those who have expressed their concern for Simmons’ whereabouts, he is grateful: “All the people that are worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with my whole heart and soul and that not to worry, Richard’s fine. You haven’t seen the last of me — I’ll come back, and I’ll come back strong.”
Listen to his full interview below.