Don't sweat it, internet: Richard Simmons, 67, is reportedly safe and sound. The iconic fitness instructor made headlines over the weekend when the internet noticed they'd seen neither sequined hide nor curly hair of him in some two years. Simmons, however, told Entertainment Tonight he was not missing and had not been kidnapped.
"I am not kidnapped," Simmons told Entertainment Tonight. "No one should be worried about me ... The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me."
To quell rumors that Simmons is being unjustly imprisoned in his home, his representative, Tom Estey, is speaking up. "As I have stated in the past, these claims are untrue and preposterous," Estey told 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."
According to Estey, Simmons has just taken a temporary, if long, step back. Which seems fair: as soon as the public noticed Simmons' absence, the rumor mill began to turn. We can see how the scrutiny could become overwhelming. Plus, aerobics is tiring — time off is deserved.
The New York Daily News was first to notice Simmons' extended absence, reporting on Saturday that the aerobics guru had, in April 2014, bid permanent adieu to his former friend, assistant and masseur, Mauro Oliveira, under suspicious circumstances.
According to the NYDN, the then-65-year-old allegedly called Oliveira to his mansion (which, may we just say, sounds majestic) only to inform him that the pair couldn't meet anymore. "I just want to be by myself, and I want to be in the house, and we're never going to see each other again," Simmons reportedly said.
Neither Oliveira nor those closest to Simmons have seen the "Sweatin' to the Oldies" pioneer since, and according to the NYDN, Oliveira believes that Simmons is "now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life," people — Oliveira named Simmons' brother, manager and housekeeper, Teresa Reveles — who "are taking advantage of his weak mental state" and emotional distress.
In late 2014, People reported that Simmons himself had spoken out about his then yearlong absence, promising in a Facebook post that he would be back to help fans Party Off the Pounds as soon as he recovered from a knee injury. According to Estey, he's now lending his aerobic expertise to people in need; if those lucky few could give us word that Simmons is alive and well, the world would be grateful.
March 14, 2016, 9:10 a.m. EDT: This story has been updated to include Simmons' statement to Entertainment Tonight, published Sunday night.