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This past weekend I went to LA/Anaheim for my birthday weekend and to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland. LA is my favorite place on earth, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun way to celebrate my birthday than running with my cousin in the best city in the world.
The day before we left, I thought I would just check to see if there were any classes at Richard Simmons’ Slimmons studio happening that we could make. I grew up watching Richard Simmons sweat to the oldies, and over the last year, I have really been loving following him on Twitter and Facebook. He’s very motivational and I love his message of self-love and acceptance, so I lost my mind at the thought of getting trained by the man himself! There was a Thursday evening class that fit well with our flights, so we went to check it out. Your first class is $12, so I couldn’t resist.
Slimmons is located in Beverly Hills, and I knew from the website that we were on our own to find street parking. I had also heard that his classes are very hard to get into, so in order to maximize our chances, we headed to Beverly Hills pretty early to scope out the area. If you are going to a class at Slimmons, there’s meter parking in front of the studio (free after 6pm) that’s very convenient. The office opens an hour before class time starts. We were there very early, so we headed over to Starbucks on Rodeo Drive to change and get ready.
We were the first ones in the door at 5:30 when they unlocked the doors and were greeted by an extremely friendly woman whose name I cannot remember. If you go to class, make sure you bring a beach towel or yoga mat and a full bottle of water. (We only had one water bottle for the two of us, and it was almost gone by the time class started. I regret that after the first song!) Anyway. Being there so early really let our nerves pile up. NP, who is the fastest runner I actually know, didn’t tell me until we got there that she is scared in group classes! She is so confident and in shape that I never would have guessed. I am so used to it from all my Les Mills that I don’t think twice about group ex anymore. Anyway. We milled around for about an hour, spoke to some other participants, and I recognized one guy from Ellen. (Ellen’s mom is also a regular at Slimmons, but she wasn’t there Thursday.
Around 6:25, Richard arrived in his Range Rover. His outfit of choice for the night was a pink top with a rhinestone orchid and pink and white striped shorts with flowery glasses. When he walked into the studio, he walked around and greeted every single person with a hug and kiss on the cheek. They started the disco ball, and it was time to sweat! Our theme for the night was oldies, and the songs were all played on a record player. I loved that.
I will be honest and say that I didn’t expect to be dripping sweat all over or didn’t think it would be as challenging as BodySTEP… I was completely wrong. There were so many different levels of fitness in the studio, so I just followed some of the participants who were more athletic. I was glad to see that the studio really does welcome all shapes, sizes, ages, and levels.
At one point in the class, everyone gets into a circle and he has people come to the center and dance with him. I knew that this happened, but didn’t mention it to NP. He motioned for the two of us to go out together during “Celebrate,” and it was crazy fun. Every person in the class danced in the circle, and everyone claps. Throughout the hour and 15 minutes, he walked around and encouraged and helped everyone. It was definitely one of the best fitness experiences of my life.
We did 60 minutes of cardio, followed by toning and stretching exercises. He also talked about his day (he had been giving talks for Covered California) and gave us some more affirmations and positive thoughts.
After stretching, he said “we have a birthday today.” I wasn’t sure if it was me, but he started talking about his friendship with Lucille Ball, and I figured it was me. (Desi Arnez and I not only share a name, but also a birthday!) He called me to the front of the class and sang to me! He asked how old I was, and when I told him, he said “shit.” I laughed so hard. It was wonderful beyond words.
After class, you’re allowed to get cell phones and cameras and he is happy to take photos. Richard led class the whole time with the same energy you see on camera in videos and interviews. It was so wonderful and I am so glad we got to go! If you have any other questions about going to a class at Slimmons, please let me know! I am happy to answer them, I felt a little lost and clueless while we were on our way.
What fitness guru would be your dream workout partner?
UPDATE: Slimmons has closed since this post, but I am so lucky to have been able to work out with the man. Amazon still has plenty of his DVDs available, and they’re very reminiscent of the class (I even have a few!) Here are my favorites:
Party Off the Pounds
Totally Tonin’ 80’s
Sweatin’ to the Oldies 5