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Richard Simmons Gets Congress Sweatin' to the Oldies

This could be the most high-energy week Congress has seen in a very, very long time. The man who is arguably America's most famous fitness icon of all time is coming to Capitol Hill to shake things up -- literally.

Richard Simmons
Fitness guru Richard Simmons exercises during a 2000 publicity event. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, file)

That's right, Richard Simmons, who turned 60 this month and whose "Sweatin' to the Oldies" video is about to turn 20, is slated to testify Thursday before the House Education and Labor Committee about expanding physical education in public schools to combat childhood obesity.

And while he still has his loud helium balloon-like voice and big hair, unfortunately, Simmons is hinting he won't be wearing his signature short shorts and tank top at the hearing.

"When I stand in front of Congress to testify I will speak from my heart but I will look like and talk like a Congressman," Simmons told the Sleuth. "That's right," he added, "no dolphin shorts and tank top."

But keep hope alive. Maybe Simmons will be sporting short shorts and a tank top underneath his congressman costume, which surely he'll have to remove for the "pro-PE" rally he plans to lead immediately after the child obesity hearing.

Simmons told us via email, "We will have a rally in which I hope all of the congressmen (and women) will join us in this one-of-a-kind patriotic workout."

Simmons is so excited about his trip to Washington, he's been touting it on his Web site where he invites fans to watch him "LIVE on C-SPAN." His site also promotes the pro-PE rally, saying, "Richard will be 'Dancin in the Street' on CAPITOL HILL! Who would have ever thought it?!"

"For a fat kid who never took a PE class, here I am with a vision to have every child in every school being physically active everyday," Simmons told the Sleuth.

Simmons won't say whether he's leaning toward Barack Obama or John McCain in the 2008 presidential race. His publicist, Tom Estey, says Simmons is "undecided."

But Simmons did tell the author of this recent article that he doesn't think a bill to expand PE classes in public schools will be signed into law until the next president is inaugurated. And considering Obama's tough workout regimen, the Sleuth strongly suspects Simmons is betting on Obama to get that bill signed into law.

Maybe we'll find out for sure on Thursday.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  July 23, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

I think the best thing to do is to make phys. ed mandatory through high school. In VA, it's only required through the 10th grade. But if it was made mandatory through senior year, I believe young people would be more inclined to continue an active lifestyle post graduation. But it has to be diversified and fun... basketball and hitting the track could get old after while. (Why not sweat to the oldies?)

Posted by: TWJ - John 3:30 | July 24, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

After being a teacher for forty-one years, it is a blessing to hear that our school systems are finally awakening to the reality that a healthy child, taking yearly P.E. classes is the best way to a greater education. Every child should be in REAL Physical Education classes every year so that he or she can continue to lead a healthy life in the future. So many health problems can be avoided if real PE classes are taught in all our schools.

I sincerely believe REAL PE classes are one of the most improtant subjects for all children.

I am thrilled to hear fitness Guru, Richard Simmons is testifying in Congress for more physical fitness classes in all our schools! I have used his tapes for years and love the energy he brings to exercise. He makes it fun! He will be a fantastic role model for our youth. Thank goodness for people like Richard Simmons who is like the energizer bunny....keeps on helping a lot of people feel better about themselves to lead a healthier life. ALOHA and thank you.

Posted by: Ele JGM | July 24, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Go Richard! He does NOT look 60.

I work with the National Wildlife Federation on the Green Hour campaign to get kids outside and away from computers and TVs and iPods for just a short time every day. It's not an easy feat -- but necessary for the health of our kids and our environment.

I can tell you our membership and web traffic is growing very fast -- especially as reports keep coming out revealing that excessive "screen-time" and sedentary life-styles lead to ADHD, childhood obesity and other health problems.

Check out http://www.greenhour.org for a great parenting resource -- activities, guides and downloads! And Ranger Rick is still at it at NWF -- look him up at http://www.nwf.org/RangerRick.

Anne Keisman, Online Media Coord.
NWF, Green Hour

Posted by: Anne Keisman | July 24, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Here in California I was horrified to learn from my daughter who is starting fifth grade that they only have a PE class once every other week which didn't begin until 3rd grade. I grew up in New York in the 80's where we had PE everyday. I'm sure that's probably changed but once every other week seems almost pointless. So many kids are what I would call "heavy" at my daughter's school. And we all know that most kids that start out heavy become overweight adults. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise need to start from the beginning. How can we expect kids that don't exercise regularly and eat doritos, soda, & fast food to suddenly stop once they turn 18 and their metabolism slows down? Being overweight most often means low self-esteem and getting treated negatively by society, not to mention the health problems. Government has got to take this seriously!

Posted by: Jennifer | July 24, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Here in California I was horrified to learn from my daughter who is starting fifth grade that they only have a PE class once every other week which didn't begin until 3rd grade. I grew up in New York in the 80's where we had PE everyday. I'm sure that's probably changed but once every other week seems almost pointless. So many kids are what I would call "heavy" at my daughter's school. And we all know that most kids that start out heavy become overweight adults. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise need to start from the beginning. How can we expect kids that don't exercise regularly and eat doritos, soda, & fast food to suddenly stop once they turn 18 and their metabolism slows down? Being overweight most often means low self-esteem and getting treated negatively by society, not to mention the health problems. Government has got to take this seriously!

Posted by: Jennifer | July 24, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

My thought is, dont get the :GUVMENT" involved, put it on the shoulders of their mammas and daddys, encourage them to play outside, baseball,football, kick the can hiding go seek., as long as they come home from school, sit in front of tv,computer,eating and drinking all those carbs and sugars, then expect obesity to take over, cancel all their cell phones, get back to pre 1940's. Thats my story and im sticking to it!

Posted by: David | July 24, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I RECENTLY RECIEVED AN E-MAIL ABOUT "MSG", THERE IN,LIES THE PROBLEM,PRESERVATIVES.
MAIN OFFENDERS : KFC - TACO BELL, ALL FAST FOOD PLACES. ALSO EVERY CAMPBELL SOUP OR SWANSON TV DINNER, AND KRAFT PRODUCT, THE LIST GOES ON - THEY ALL HAVE THE PRESERVA- TIVE, THEY USE DIFFERENT WORDS, LIKE NATURAL INGREDIENTS, ACCENT, AGINOMOTO.
MSG IS NOT ONLY NOT GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH, IT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO EAT MORE. NO WONDER THE COUNTRY IS FULL OF "VERY BIG PEOPLE. THERE IS A BILL IN CONGRESS COMING UP WHICH STATES "MSG" DOES NOT HAVE TO BE
INCLUDED ON THE LIST OF INGREDIENTS.

Posted by: BARBARA STEWART | July 25, 2008 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I hated PE in school...the instructors were loud-mouthed jocks who only liked the athletic students...I was always the last chosen..."oh..HIM...yeah...put 'em on that team..."Aw...we'll LOSE with HIM!"

NO WAY to mandatory PE...give a kid a break! WHO wants to get out of there perspiring and then have to finish the school day? PE to me seemed something like doing hard time...I HATED PE!

Posted by: Jason | July 25, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness for Richard Simmons. Why doesn't the Surgeon General take up this cause? C. Evertt Koop was great with his campagin for healthy living. I think we lost our way when schools dropped Home Economic and P.E. I'm sure they could both be reinvented/updated to bring back nutritional and physical fitness education to our kids. I think education is the key.

Posted by: Cathy | July 27, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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