I attack a day. I’m like an animal getting out of a cage. It’s like there’s a tiger inside my chest and it can’t wait to get out and enjoy life and do what I do best and what makes me happy.
What makes me most happy is helping people. My parents were very active in charities, so at an early age I was helping dish out food to the homeless and do fundraisers. My parents instilled in me the ideas that every day you’ve got to take care of yourself and every day you’ve got to be kind to others. You’ll always feel like you’re riding on a rainbow if you help people.
There are a lot of house-bound people too heavy or too sick to get around. All day, I talk to people who weigh 300 pounds, 500 pounds, 800 pounds. They never were able to complete the pieces of their health puzzle. For 10, 20, 30 years, I’ve been calling these people, singing to them, trying to give them hope, make them laugh, and hopefully make their day.
Every day, I ask God, “What more can I say to people? What better example can I be?” I don’t give up on people. I say, “You may have given up on you, but I haven’t.” Sometimes I’m the last person who talks to them before they die. I’m doing what I do because I don’t like people dying all alone, in pain, not feeling good about themselves, having no hope and no plan.
I’ll be 65 this year. I’ve had my exercise studio for nearly 40 years. I’ll teach there tonight. The music will go on and I’ll weave a spell around people so they don’t even know they’re exercising. Before they know it, they’ll look down and say, “Oh, wow, I’m all sweaty.” For an hour and 15 minutes, I take them away from work, the credit card bill, their marriage, the kids. I say, “You’re going to get in here and concentrate on you, do good things for you, and not think about anyone else. You’re going to feel better.”
You have to nurture your energy, by not wasting it and by working on projects you love. God doesn’t want you to be down on this Earth depressed. He wants you to be resilient, to be able to get up and do what you have to do, what you want to do, and enjoy your life.
Using his unique wit, passion, and enthusiasm, Richard Simmons, the nation’s most revered fitness expert, continues his crusade to encourage people to take control of their fitness destiny. This essay originally appeared on LifeByMe.com and was reprinted with permission. LifeByMe.com publishes one original essay by a thought leader each weekday.