"I am making changes and taking time to do the things I want to do," Simmons wrote

By Stephanie Petit
Updated November 20, 2016 04:00 PM
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Richard Simmons is saying goodbye to the fitness studio that changed his life — and the lives of so many others.

Slimmons, the 68-year-old fitness icon’s exercise studio in Beverly Hills, California, closed its doors after more than 40 years in operation on Saturday. Simmons took to Facebook with a heartfelt message to his fans.

“I will not see you today because I am not very good at endings. I would just spend the whole time hugging and crying. My eyes would get puffy and red, my hair would get all frizzy and I’d be a mess,” he wrote. “I cannot bear to be sad today. And you shouldn’t be sad either. This should be a celebration of our forty-plus years together dancin’ and sweatin’. So let’s turn this ending into a new beginning.”

Simmons said that after decades of spreading his message of a portioned diet and fun workouts across the country, he is starting a new chapter of his life.

“It’s been over forty years now, and I am finally taking my own advice,” he said. “I am being kind to myself, and putting myself first. I am making changes and taking time to do the things I want to do. Please know that I am in good health and I am happy. No one has ever been able to tell me what to do and the same is true today. I am still independent, determined and opinionated. I simply am making a new beginning for myself — quietly and in my very own special way.”

After thanking the staff at Slimmons and all the followers who sweat alongside him, Simmons encouraged his followers to continue making their health a priority.

“Truly, you don’t need me to tell you what to do anymore. You know. It’s within you. It’s in your heart and it’s been there all along. So get up and get moving!” he concluded. “Be kind to one another, be kind to your body and be kind to yourself. I love you.”

Simmons announced the decision to close the studio, which has been open since 1974, in late October.

In June, Simmons’ rep Tom Estey explained the reasons behind his client’s retreat from the spotlight. “[Richard] has decided to live quietly the last few years. He had knee surgery a few years ago and has a bum knee,” Estey told PEOPLE. “He is still on Twitter and Facebook and works behind the scenes continuing to inspire and motivate people to lose weight. When he decides to come back, he will come back. He just needed a break.”