By Anna-Marie Menhenott
PORT ST. LUCIE -- From the outside, Richard Simmons is the picture of health, both physical and emotional. However, growing up, Mr. Simmons faced some of the same obstacles that can sometimes push one over the edge.
"I was an overweight kid," Mr. Simmons said. "I was made fun of and bullied growing up. Back when I was a child, there wasn't the same recognition of bullying as there is now. I was judged by my weight and had to face a lot of adverse situations. But, I learned to be positive, focus my energy on the good in people and pray."
Mr. Simmons is bringing his positive attitude, his love for helping others and his sense of humor to the Civic Center next week. He hopes that there will be a big crowd there ready for lots of hugs.
"I want to hug everyone and let everyone know how much they mean to me," an emotional Mr. Simmons said. "I really want everyone to know how important having a positive attitude is to being healthy. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body. I hope when everyone leaves the Senior-Cise, that they go out and spread good feelings to everyone they meet."
Senior-Cise will include a morning of fitness and fun from 9 a.m. to noon. Refreshments will be served at 9 a.m. and a warm-up and demo starts at 10 a.m.
"I hope everyone comes to the event with the want to feel refreshed," Mr. Simmons said. "You wake up, count your blessings, put on your sneakers and move your butt. That's the key to being healthy. You can't just sit around and hope to lose weight. It's really pretty simple. Portions should be less and exercise should be more."
Mr. Simmons has been inspiring others to get healthy for more than 30 years. He is now taking a stand against childhood obesity and is working on a video to get children involved in eating better and exercising more.
"People eat for two reasons," Mr. Simmons said. "First, it's entertaining. It tastes good. But, just because it tastes good doesn't mean it has to be bad for you. Healthy food can be just as delicious. And, second, we tend to shove down our emotions with food. It becomes a comfort. So, we have to find a way to deal with those emotions that doesn't involve eating ourselves to death."
Mr. Simmons' enthusiasm and honest manner has brought him far. He hopes that others will feed off his energy and continue to make healthy choices.
There will also be a meet and greet to share stories with Mr. Simmons, wellness stations, prizes and giveaways.
This event is sponsored by Humana. Admission and parking are free.
The Civic Center is located at 9221 S.E. Civic Center Place, on the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 1 and Walton Road.
For more information, contact the Port St. Lucie Civic Center at (772) 807-4488.