Richard Simmons Explains More Than 2-Year Public Absence

The fitness guru was last seen in the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

ByABC News
March 14, 2016, 9:47 AM

— -- Richard Simmons denied he has been kidnapped and says he has “just been taking it easy” since making his last official public appearance in 2013.

"I am not kidnapped," Simmons, 67, said in a phone interview with "Entertainment Tonight" on Sunday. "I am just in my house right now."

"I love all the people who worry about me," the fitness guru said. "But it was time for me to take some time to be by myself. For the last 40 years I have been traveling, teaching classes, and I had a knee injury, so I had a knee replacement, which was very difficult for me. I have really just been taking it easy, staying at home, working out in my gym and doing the things I haven't done in a very long time."

Simmons, who last appeared in public at the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, spoke out after a New York Daily News report published over the weekend raised concerns that he was being held against his will in his Hollywood Hills mansion. The report cited Simmons' "closest friends."

One of those friends concerned about Simmons’ well-being is Mauro Oliveira, Simmons’ former assistant.

Oliveira, who last saw Simmons two years ago, recently self-published an e-book titled, “King Rich and the Evil Witch,” in which he claims Simmons’ female housekeeper has control over him through her witchcraft.

“That’s what I believe,” Oliveira told ABC News’ Nick Watt. “I said, ‘Is she controlling your life now?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’”

Oliveira told Watt he believes members of Simmons’ staff are holding him for his money.

“The house alone is worth $10 million,” Oliveira said of Simmons’ mansion.

Simmons’ housekeeper did not reply to ABC News' request for comment.

Simmons’ rep, Tom Estey, called claims that Simmons is being held against his will "absolutely untrue."

"It’s ridiculous because this is really a non-story," Estey told ABC News.

Simmons himself told "Entertainment Tonight" the people around him are “wonderful.”

“No one should be worried about me," Simmons told "ET." "The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me."

Simmons also put to rest rumors that he has avoided the public eye due to weight gain.

"I still weigh 150," Simmons said. "I work out every day. I have a gym at the house, and I am very healthy."