Richard Simmons left public life because he wanted to take a break and live peacefully, his brother Lenny says.
“He’s doing what he wants to do which is kick back and have a quiet life,” Lenny, 70, says on the latest episode of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast. “He’s not angry with anybody. He just decided, I’ve done it and I’m going to be quiet.”
“For some reason he wants to be quiet, which is the complete opposite of how he normally is. I don’t understand it, but I have to respect it.”
Lenny says that Richard, 68, calls him every Sunday, and that he and his wife spent Christmas at the fitness guru’s home, but he is unsure why Richard decided to cut off all other contact.
“I’m not too sure why he made that decision to do it that way,” Lenny says. “He hasn’t told me. He really has not confided in me.”
Lenny’s comments echo those of Richard’s longtime rep, Tom Estey.
“Richard made a choice. To live a more private life. If he decides to come back, he’ll come back,” Estey told PEOPLE.
After decades in the spotlight, Richard suddenly stopped teaching at his workout studio, Slimmons, on Feb. 15, 2014, and has not been seen in public since. Richard’s friends and fans, including Dan Taberski, a former Slimmons regular and dinner guest of Richard’s who runs the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, have wondered what happened to the man who used to call them regularly.
Taberski asked Lenny if he thinks that Richard cares about the uproar over his disappearance, including claims that he’s being held hostage by his housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, or that he’s transitioning to a woman.
“I think he cares, but I don’t think he worries about some of the stuff that he’s been told about that’s been in National Inquirer and TMZ, which is completely erroneous and a lie.”
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Lenny says that Richard is fully healthy, but he isn’t necessarily enjoying life right now.
“Happy is kind of a hard word to describe,” Lenny says. “There’s nothing going on medically, and I would know that. Does he have cancer, does he have AIDS, does he have this, does he have that. And he doesn’t have any of that. He is healthy.”