'Missing Richard Simmons': Inside the theories regarding the fitness guru's whereabouts

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On February 15, 2014, Richard Simmons was scheduled to teach an aerobics class at his gym, Slimmons, in Beverly Hills, California, but he never showed up.

It's now been over three years since the 68-year-old fitness guru has been seen, and while ET spoke to him last March over the phone, he's rarely been heard from since retreating from the public eye.

Earlier this year, former Daily Show producer Dan Taberski, who considers himself a friend of Simmons, started the weekly podcast Missing Richard Simmons to investigate the whereabouts of the Sweatin' to the Oldies star. Each week, Taberski interviews an array of people who knew Simmons -- from a Hollywood homes tour guide to Simmons' purported "second mother" to his own brother -- in hopes of speaking with the once-outgoing celebrity and thus getting a better understanding as to why he stepped out of the spotlight in the first place.

In the second episode, Taberski even goes to Simmons' home -- which is now surrounded by a gate and has no intercom for visitors -- and chats with his longtime housekeeper, Theresa Reveles, who lives in Simmons' Beverly Hills home and is said to be his closest confidant.

WATCH: Richard Simmons' Rep Shoots Down Latest 'Hostage' Rumors as Podcast Dives Into His Absence From the Public

See photos of Richard Simmons:

35 PHOTOS
Richard Simmons through the years
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Richard Simmons through the years
Richard Simmons, circa 1980. (Photo by Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Richard Simmons Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Richard Simmons Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
GENERAL HOSPITAL - Shoot Date: December 19, 1979. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) LOUISE HOVEN;RICHARD SIMMONS
GENERAL HOSPITAL - Shoot Date: October 6, 1980. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) RICHARD SIMMONS
TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Air Date 09/28/1981 -- Pictured: (l-r) Political comedian Mark Russell, musical guest Tony Orlando, fitness expert Richard Simmons, guest host Joan Rivers (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
American diet and fitness guru and author Richard Simmons, 1982. (Photo by American Stock Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1992: Actor Richard Simmons poses for a portrait in 1992 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1992: Actor Richard Simmons poses for a portrait in 1992 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 261 -- Pictured: (l-r) Fitness personality Richard Simmons during an interview with host Jay Leno on July 12, 1993-- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 609 -- Pictured: (l-r) Richard Simmons and Tyra Banks on January 12, 1995 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 609 -- Pictured: Richard Simmons arrives on January 12, 1995 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: American fitness guru Richard Simmons, center, is joined by two policemen and others in an outdoor workout session sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board on February 10, 2000 in Union Square Park, New York City, New York. (Photo by Catherine McGann/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16: Fitness expert Richard Simmons leads students in exercise at the Third Annual Nutrition Advisory Council Symposium sponsored by LAUSD Nutrition Network at California State University on June 16, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
Richard Simmons (center right) with models in fashions by Jay McCarroll and Chris March at the Grand Central Station, Venderbilt Hall in New York City, New York (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)
Fitness guru Richard Simmons poses for a photo while visiting the WGN studios in Chicago, Illinois, on May 8, 2008. (Photo by Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 24: Richard Simmons leads the crowd on the Cannon Terrace in exercises during the 'FIT Kids' rally to promote physical education in schools, following their testimony at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on Thursday, July 24, 2008. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JULY 28: Richard Simmons visits the 'Late Show with David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theatre on July 28, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/WireImage)
MOUNT POCONO, PA - JANUARY 08: Richard Simmons attends An Evening with Richard Simmons at the Mount Airy Casino Resort on January 8, 2010 in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: -- Richard Simmons appears on NBC News' 'Today' show. (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: -- (l-r) Richard Simmons and William Shatner appear on NBC News' 'Today' show. (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - APRIL 22: Richard Simmons celebrates the passage of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act with a group of tourists at the US Capitol on April 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
(L-R) A guest, Richard Simmons and Denise Austin attend the godfather of fitness Jack LaLanne's 'Celebration of Life' memorial service at Forest Lawn Cemetery on February 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 10: Richard Simmons (R) during the 2011 Miss USA hula hoop contest Mile Shops on June 10, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Richard Simmons is seen on August 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: TV personality Richard Simmons leaves the 'Wendy Williams Show' taping at the AMV Studios on November 15, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 25: Richard Simmons at the Legendary Musician Peter Asher Autographs The Painted Guitar Titled 'British Invasion' At Gibson GuitarTown Sunset Strip Sunset Strip at Sunset Strip Market on October 25, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/WireImage)
KATIE - 4/10/13 - Obesity in America and childhood weight issues are discussed on KATIE, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) CHARLES HAINES, RICHARD SIMMONS
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 02: Richard Simmons attends the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation's 24th Annual 'A Time For Heroes' at Century Park on June 2, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for EGPAF)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 09: Fitness personality Richard Simmons attends 2013 LA Gay Pride Festival - Day 3 on June 9, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 01: Richard Simmons performs at the Friend Movement Campaign benefit concert held at El Rey Theatre on July 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Richard Simmons and Diana Nyad swim during 'Swim for Relief' Benefiting Hurricane Sandy Recovery - Day 2 at Herald Square on October 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 13: Richard Simmons attends the 29th Annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles on October 13, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AIDS Walk Los Angeles)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
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Following the release of the podcast's third episode, Simmons' rep assured ET that he was residing comfortably at his home. Meanwhile, some of Simmons' friends and fans continue to speculate over his departure from the public eye.

One of Simmons' last interviews was with Jason and Randy Sklar on their podcast, Sklarbro Country, and it was here that he revealed that he had not been to someone's house in seven years. "I don't hang out with people," Simmons admitted. "I live a very recluse life. This is, like, the most hanging out I've done, like, four people in a room."

"I teach my class, I kiss everybody, I take hundreds of photos and I go home," he added. "I socialize with no one."

"As soon as the microphones were off, we were like, 'This is a sad person,'" the Sklar brothers recalled to Taberski. "That struggle is so real."

Here's a look at a few of the theories posed on Missing Richard Simmons, and what ET has been told about the whereabouts and well-being of the fitness mogul:

Theory No. 1: The Bum Knee

On the February day that Simmons was absent from class, a sign was posted on the door that informed customers that he was getting physical therapy for a knee problem and would not be teaching for the remainder of the month and on into March. As Taberski points out, this wasn't the first time Simmons had knee problems, as he was often sitting down while instructing his classes.

One of the regulars at Slimmons -- which closed in November -- notes in episode two of the podcast that Simmons not being able to instruct a class anymore would have been "devastating to him."

Simmons also told ET last March, "I had a knee injury, so I had a knee replacement, which was very difficult for me."

See photos from Richard Simmons' most recent appearance:

15 PHOTOS
Richard Simmons in most recent appearance
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Richard Simmons in most recent appearance
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: Personality Richard Simmons post performance at SPARKLE: An All-Star Holiday Concert at ACME Comedy Theatre on December 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David A. Walega/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: TV personality Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Richard Simmons attends the 87th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Roth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Richard Simmons attends the 87th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Roth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: TV personality Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: TV personality Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: TV personality Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: TV personality Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Richard Simmons attends inflation eve for the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 27, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Personality Richard Simmons attends Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo Presented By POW! Entertainment - Day 1 held at Los Angeles Convention Center on November 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Richard Simmons attends the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Personality Richard Simmons attends Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo Presented By POW! Entertainment - Day 1 held at Los Angeles Convention Center on November 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
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Theory 2: The Dog Dies

Others that know Simmons speculate that it was the death of his Dalmatian, Hattie, that may have driven him into a reclusive state. At one time, he had at least eight dogs and Hattie was the last one to die. Around the time that he stopped teaching at Slimmons, Taberski received an email from Simmons notifying him of Hattie's death. "It's very hard for me right now," the email read. "See you soon."

"That's HUGE for him," one of Simmons' good friends and collaborators exclaims of the dog's death on the podcast. "Especially if you're down to one [dog] and you're in your house all the time, that's big."

Theory No. 3: The Housekeeper Is in Charge

This is perhaps the most controversial theory posed, and the one that has received the most media attention. In episode three of the podcast, Simmons' former friend and masseur, Mauro Oliveira, alleges that when he last visited Simmons in May 2014, his housekeeper made him leave the premises.

Oliveira goes on to insinuate that Reveles is holding Simmons hostage in his own home.

During ET's phone interview with Simmons last March, he denied these claims. "I am not kidnapped," he said flat out. "I am just in my house right now. ...The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me."

After the podcast episode aired, Simmons' rep, Tom Estey, also vehemently refuted Oliveira's accusations, calling them "a load of crap."

"Theresa has been working with him for, since I've been working with him [27 years]," Estey told People. "So, holding him hostage is the biggest, I mean ... Theresa is the housekeeper, she's the caretaker, she is extraordinary, she is amazing, she takes impeccable care of Richard and she has for as long as I have been working with Richard."

When ET spoke with one of Simmons' neighbors about Oliveira's recent claims, he too had kind things to say about Reveles. "She's the loveliest. She's the person between all the bulls**t and him [Richard]," the neighbor explained. "She takes all the heat. People make stuff up."

Theory No. 4: He Just Wants to Be Left Alone

"Richard made a choice. To live a more private life," Estey also told People. "If he decides to come back, he'll come back."

"People claim that it happened overnight. It really didn't," he continued. "We were turning down stuff for years and just kind of quieting down, and when he decides that he wants to come back, that's when he'll come back, and when that will be, I have no idea or if he will at all. There really isn't anything to report."

In the second episode of the podcast, Willam Belli, a longtime attendee at Slimmons, had a similar sentiment about his friend's disappearance. "He might have been done and he doesn't owe s**t to anybody," Belli exclaims. "He pulled back that curtain a little bit, and gave people that personal interaction and now they feel a loss."

He adds, "Sorry, girl, bye. That's what he did. He did a, 'Bye, girl, bye.'"

When ET spoke with Simmons' neighbor, he agreed with Belli and Estey. "He wants to be left alone. He's been in the public eye for 30 years," the neighbor noted. "Why don't people just leave him alone? I don't understand. He just put a new roof on his house, they painted it. He's always into his home looking beautiful."

"He sees his brother, his employees, he sees his attorney, he sees his business manager," the neighbor went on to tell ET. "They all come and go. I just don't know why people don't leave him alone."

WATCH: Richard Simmons Thanks Fans for 'Overwhelming' Support After Clarifying He Has Not Been 'Kidnapped'

While there appears to be differing opinions as to whether Simmons completely closing himself off to the public is best, it's clear that he's had a huge impact on those that have known him and followed his career -- regardless of what they may think of his disappearance from the limelight.

"I love all the people who worry about me," Simmons told ET during our interview last March. "But it was time for me to take some time to be by myself. ...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."

Here's what Simmons told ET after announcing the closing of Slimmons last year:


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