Richard Simmons Hiding & Hu$tling!!! With New Merch & Calendar

9/6/2018 4:05 PM PDT

Richard Simmons Back in Action with New Project on


Richard Simmons has been in hiding for almost 5 years, but that's about to change in a big way ... because he's about to wheel and deal again.

We've learned the famous fitness guru will launch the "Richard Simmons Sweatin' Shop" channel Thursday on Think QVC meets Facebook where anyone -- even celebs -- can go live to plug their merch.

Richard's first offering ... a 2019 calendar filled with more than just 365 dates ... also contains Richard-ism inspirations for each day. He'll also sell new and classic exercise merch. 

One catch -- fans expecting to see the King of Fitness should manage their expectations ... we're told he will NOT make any appearances on the channel. Richard's friends will pimp his products.

Simmons' channel will go live Thursday night at 8 PM ET.

Richard's been in hiding going on 5 years now. Last time we came close to getting even a glimpse was in April 2017, when a pap got a pic that partially showed his face. There was this Bigfoot-like image in Summer of 2016 but that doesn't really count, right?

As we reported ... Richard's had some health issues in recent years. He was hospitalized last year because of a gastrointestinal problem.

He's done his best to keep a low profile with interesting disguises.