There’s no way. No way this woman who’s leading the class in jumping jacks, squats, and planking could be 80 years old, right? It’s just not feasible.
That’s the first reaction of everyone who doesn’t know Dr. Lois Kirn, but she is indeed 80 years old and she is still teaching physical education, with 32 years on the job at Miami's New World School of the Arts and still going strong.
"Since I joined her class I’ve lost five pounds," sophomore Gabriel Brito said.
When Kirn started her teaching career 56 years ago, color television was a rarity and home computers were still decades away. She says this generation of kids has too many distractions and reasons to be sedentary.
"They eat too much, they don’t exercise enough, it’s all lifestyle," Kirn said. "The first day, they couldn’t do a jumping jack, they could not coordinate it, the plank, 10 seconds was it, and now we’re up to a minute, so I just love it and I see the improvement."
Fitness is her passion, and she’s not ready to hang up her yoga pants, which is just fine with Kirn’s boss, Jason Allen, the principal of the downtown Miami arts conservatory.
"There’s a level of credibility there, she lives it, she breathes it, it’s who she is, she’s as real and as authentic as you can get," Allen said.
If you scoff at her class, thinking how tough could it possibly be if an octogenarian can do it every day, you do so at your own peril.
"Try it, try it and see how you do, and then talk to me about it,” Kirn said with a sneer.
To state the obvious, Kirn is not like most senior citizens. She’s more at home in the weight room than the condo clubhouse room, and whatever you do, if you meet her, don’t mention the "R" word, retirement.
"You sound like my daughter!" Kirn laughed when I asked her when she might stop teaching. "The day it’s not fun anymore or the day I can’t, I do five miles every day."
She’s a force of nature. Kirn energizes the kids, and they fuel her desire to keep going. And going. And going.