Children's Health

Clowning Around over R. McD's Fitness Role

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This week McDonald's announced that mascot Ronald McDonald will expand his role to include promoting fitness for children. Jennifer Ludden turns to health and exercise guru Richard Simmons for his reaction. Simmons says he's plenty fried.


It seems Ronald McDonald is taking on a new role. After criticism from many quarters that McDonald's markets unhealthy food to kids, Ronald McDonald will now, according to the company's press release, expand his role as global ambassador of fun, fitness and children's well-being. We thought another ambassador of fun and fitness, Richard Simmons, might have some advice for Ronald. Richard Simmons joins us on the phone.


Mr. RICHARD SIMMONS (Fitness Guru): Hello, hello to you, Jennifer. How are you?

LUDDEN: I'm fine now.

Mr. SIMMONS: Well, I am very upset, very, very upset since I got this news about Ronald McDonald.

LUDDEN: Why is that?

Mr. SIMMONS: First of all, I have been around longer than Ronald McDonald. First he stole my Afro. I mean, yeah, mine is brown but--he did his orange--but it's still my Afro. I am--I'm going to call the CEO today of McDonald's and have a little chat with him, because I mean, they can't put Ronald McDonald in my tank top and shorts because that is my little uniform.

LUDDEN: Yeah. I think his shorts are a little...

Mr. SIMMONS: So now they're putting him in this little yellow jump suit.

LUDDEN: They're a little longer than yours.

Mr. SIMMONS: Yeah.

LUDDEN: But yeah, he's in a jump suit. So do you have any tips for him while he's going to be doing this new role?

Mr. SIMMONS: Well, I think he's got to have a lot of good music and he's got to go out there and just make people stretch and sweat and be the very best they can be.

LUDDEN: Might he suggest that the children lay off the Big Macs?

Mr. SIMMONS: Well, here's the sad part of this whole thing is that it's a little hypocritical, so I think that Ronald McDonald and McDonald's, if they're serious about this, that they have to sort of change their menu to bring more healthy food to children.

LUDDEN: Now you've actually spent a lot of time doing just that, trying to get kids to eat healthy, and I understand next week you're going to go to some Los Angeles public schools and put on some fitness symposiums. Working with children, what's the hardest thing about getting this message across?

Mr. SIMMONS: I don't find it difficult to work with kids. I've always treated the children like adults, make them feel good, make them smile, get them to sing a song that's going to be fun for them and to move their body and to feel good about themselves and love themselves at an early age. That's what it's all about, Jennifer. Self-love can lead you to a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy spirit.

LUDDEN: Now, Richard, almost a century ago, there was...

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUDDEN: Yeah, I know you weren't around, but there was fitness on the radio, people doing jumping jacks and things while listening at home. In that tradition, can we ask you in just the few seconds we have left, can you lead us through a little quick routine here, the 30-second workout?

Mr. SIMMONS: OK, here we go. First of all, I want you to inhale through your nose and breathe...

(Soundbite of breathing)

Mr. SIMMONS: And then exhale through your mouth.

(Soundbite of breathing)

Mr. SIMMONS: Let's do that again. Inhale through your nose, get that air in your lungs and exhale. Now bring both hands up to the sky and start reaching. Get your left hand way up and then your right hand way up. Bring those hands down, clap four times.

(Soundbite of clapping)


Mr. SIMMONS: Already you should be feeling a lot of energy...


Mr. SIMMONS: ...Jennifer. How do you feel?

LUDDEN: I should have done that before the interview.

Mr. SIMMONS: You should always exercise before your interview. Great questions will come to your mind.

LUDDEN: Fitness master Richard Simmons in Los Angeles, thank you.

Mr. SIMMONS: And, Ronald, you better watch it.

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