Dancing with the Stars' Kym Johnson is taking over Richard Simmons' Slimmons Studio space to open her own fitness studio

By Gabrielle Olya and Patrick Gomez
March 28, 2017 05:47 PM
Credit: Glenn Nutley

When Richard Simmons officially closed the doors to his Slimmons workout studio in November 2016, Kym Johnson decided she wanted to give the space new life by making it the site of her own fitness studio.

“I wanted to have a fitness studio, and then I saw an article that Richard was closing [Slimmons] down, so I actually drove right down there,” the Dancing with the Stars pro, 40, told PEOPLE after Monday’s show.

When she inquired with a teacher at the studio about taking over the lease, she was turned down — but she didn’t give up on the idea so easily.

“I just couldn’t bare the thought of that space being turned into an office with cubicles, so I spoke with the landlord and she felt the same way,” recalls Johnson. “She said, ‘I’m so glad that someone is taking it over that will keep it a fitness space because he did so much for so many people,’ and I’m hoping to continue that.”

“It is such a special space,” she continues. “When I go in there, it’s got this energy about it.”

Renovations are currently underway, with Johnson’s studio set to open in a couple of weeks. And while keeping up with her rehearsal schedule with Mr. T and staying on top of construction of her studio has been a challenge, Johnson says her husband, entrepreneur Robert Herjavec, has helped keep her motivated.

“Robert is the best multitasker so he’s taught me how to multitask,” she says. “I’ll wake up really early in the morning and dedicate hours to the studio, and then I go work with Mr. T in the afternoon. It’s great because I get to do something I love on DWTS, and then I’m learning a lot from Robert in terms of business. He turns into Robert from Shark Tank sometimes! He’s full on.”

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One thing Johnson hasn’t quite figured out what to do about is the iconic “Slimmons” sign that has been hanging above the door of the Beverly Hills studio for decades.

“I feel so bad taking it down,” she says. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel like I may take it down and frame it somewhere. I’ve got to do something!”

Regardless of what she ends up doing with the sign, Johnson will definitely be playing homage to Simmons — who hasn’t been seen in public since 2014 — with an 80s-themed workout class she plans to offer weekly at her studio.

“I’m [going to teach] the ’80s Bod’ [class], which is a throwback to Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda,” says Johnson, who will also be offering hip-hop, barre, cardio and a dancing in heels class. “I want everyone to dress up!”

While Johnson hasn’t officially gotten Simmons’ blessing for her new studio — “I haven’t heard from him but I heard that he’s just living his life and he’s happy,” she says — she hopes he’ll pay the studio a visit when it’s open.

“It would be nice!” she says. “I would love [for him] to come back and christen the space.”