LOS ANGELES, March 14 (UPI) -- Richard Simmons addressed his years-long absence from public life following rumors that his housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, is holding him hostage in his own home.
"I'm not kidnapped," the 67-year-old fitness guru told Entertainment Tonight by phone. "I am just in my house right now. I love all the people who worry about me. But it was time for me to take some time to be by myself."
"I had a knee replacement, which was really difficult for me," he revealed. "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 made his last public appearance at SPARKLE: An All-Star Holiday Concert in December 2013. He insisted "no one should be worried" about his prolonged absence and made similar remarks on Monday's episode of the Today show.
"For all the people that were worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with my whole heart and soul and that not to worry, Richard's fine," he said by phone. "You haven't seen the last of me. I'll come back, and I'll come back strong."
A source had described Simmons as "frail" and "gaunt" in a New York Daily News story that ran over the weekend. The article suggested Reveles is controlling the star's life, which Simmons dismissed as "very silly" to Today.
"No one is holding me in my house as a hostage," he said. "Teresa Reveles has been with me 30 years. It's almost like we're a married couple."
Simmons' rep called the hostage claims "untrue" and "preposterous" in a statement Saturday. Simmons is known for his Sweatin' to the Oldies aerobic videos and has authored several books, including Cookin' on Broadway.