cherielilyslimmons2.jpgCherie Lily is the kind of classic New York character who does a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Lily is a fitness instructor, celebrity trainer, musician, nightlife fixture and apparel designer as well as rocker Andrew W.K.'s collaborator and wife. She is probably best known, however, for creating the genre Houserobics, her original blend of high-energy dance and workout music. Her new self-titled EP is out Jan. 29th. Here she writes about her recent trip to L.A. to meet the one and only Richard Simmons.

Being a diehard fitness enthusiast, Richard Simmons is my ultimate hero. So when I heard that anyone could take an exercise class with the fitness icon at his Los Angeles studio, Slimmons (and for only $12!), I jumped on a plane.

I didn't believe it myself until I went there and was so starstruck, I could barely breathe! Turns out, when Richard is not on TV or on the road, he's at his home base in L.A., getting people sweating. You can see him in all his glory (wearing his signature Dolfin-brand striped shorts and his Swarovski crystal tank tops) every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at Slimmons.

With glistening silver letters over its double doors, Richard's safe sweat haven is a place for all humanity to get fit and have fun doing it. Before Richard opened his studio nearly 40 years ago, there wasn't a place where all shapes and sizes were treated with love and compassion. Gyms were serious, unfriendly places where people dreaded going. Richard, however, is a comedic genius and keeps his legions of fitness followers motivated with his flamboyant hijinks.

cherielilyslimmons1.jpgAs a fitness instructor teaching group classes for over 10 years, I can safely say that I've never witnessed a fitness experience like it. Richard's high-flying attitude is contagious. From the moment he walks into the room, he's on fire. Richard is a performer and Slimmons is his stage. He has members laughing out loud while they strut to his playlists with fabulous titles like "All Newies To Make You Dewey," a mix of new Top 40 hits including Psy's "Gangnam Style" and "Hummingbird Heartbeat" by Katy Perry. You never know what to expect from Richard. On any given day, you might find him in full costume for a special themed workout. One Saturday afternoon, Richard was dressed head-to-toe as a pink poodle; for Election Day, Richard taught class dressed as Sarah Palin. My face hurt from smiling so hard.

Without a microphone, Richard waltzes around the studio encouraging everyone to keep going, throwing out one-liners that make the class crack up. ("I don't care if you puke, just keep moving!" was one of my personal favorites.)

Richard interacts with each person in the room, making everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside. After class, fans line up to share a moment with the legendary fitness master. Richard takes photos and speaks to anyone and everyone. My trip to L.A. was well worth it.

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