cover image Still Hungry--After All These Years

Still Hungry--After All These Years

Richard Simmons. G T Publishing Corporation, $23.95 (303pp) ISBN 978-1-57719-356-2

One of Simmons's great strengths as a fitness guru and infomercial demigod is his palpable empathy for others. But the man who feels others' frustration, anger and sadness does very little soul-searching here, beyond noting that ""food equals love."" Simmons radiates warmth and compassion in the book's later chapters, which cover his work rescuing morbidly obese fans (the focus of his 1993 book, Never Give Up) and establishing exercise programs for the physically challenged, but that depth of feeling is seldom evident when he tells his own story. Simmons presents himself as a chubby child who was constantly picked on but who was able to deflect all hurts with humor and by obsessing over food. Youthful anecdotes about inviting strangers home to dinner and putting the family home up for sale will make most readers feel for his beleaguered parents rather than for the irresistible scamp Simmons portrays himself to have been. Growing older, Simmons tackled his weight problem with starvation, vomiting, laxatives, shakes, Weight Watchers and diet pills, landing in the hospital after losing 112 pounds in two and a half months. He finally found the key to be exercise and smaller portions. Opening a salad bar/exercise studio in Beverly Hills brought him an acting stint on General Hospital. From there he built his fitness empire by writing self-help books, producing Sweatin' to the Oldies videos, creating the Deal A Meal food maintenance program and cannily marketing his image to the public. Simmons breezes past the $64,000 question, stating only that he is too busy working to have a private life--beyond his dogs. This autobiography is as bland as cottage cheese, but steadfast fans will no doubt eat it up. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)