Kirkland fitness teacher, 70, makes 'em shake, rattle and roll
By PEGGY KUNKEL
Kirkland Reporter UW News Lab
May 14, 2012 · Updated 2:02 PM
“I celebrated my 70th birthday this month. My secret? No fear.”
Meet Redmond resident Jane Miller, a fitness instructor at the North Kirkland Community Center.
Miller seeks to motivate her class with humor and touch. Bonus? She’s committed to getting her students fit.
Tracy Harrison, recreation coordinator for the City of Kirkland, says: “Jane has taught fitness over 27 years. When I learned she was turning 70, I couldn’t believe it as she is so remarkably fit and active. There’s such camaraderie in her classes between students; they motivate each other, have coffee together, celebrate achievements and milestones. If someone doesn’t show up, they call to find out why.”
It’s inspiring to observe the spirited teacher at work. While smiling and greeting students, Miller selects music, draws a funny picture, and writes a motivating message on the board. During the warm-up you hear her instructions: “Breathe in, blow it out.”
Then the song “Shake Rattle and Roll” reverberates throughout the room. Students run and exercise to the music under Miller’s guidance. “Let’s Go To The Hop” sets students leaping as she shouts “right step, turn, sashay, change, twist!”
Some students indicate they’re tired. Miller smiles and instructs them: “Yell ‘Ohhhhhhh!’ When you’re tired, it helps, doesn’t it?” The students moan.
Meanwhile, sparks of humor fly between teacher and class, delighting everyone as they joke, sing and have fun.
Lana Starr, a year older than Miller, remarks: “We don’t have to wear makeup and cute outfits—it is too early for that! Everyone’s laughing, singing and so friendly; we care about each other.”
Linda Murphy, recreation manager for the City of Kirkland who joined the class over a year ago, says that “Jane motivates – it goes beyond fitness; these ladies have bonded to support one another on a daily basis. When I tell my friends how much I enjoy my class and tell them I work out at 7 a.m. with ladies 40 to 80-plus years old, they can’t believe I get a workout. But I can tell you, we do!”
Murphy, focusing on her triceps, yells: “Jane has the strongest triceps in the Northwest!”
Another student, Midge Connor, responds, “I don’t even know what triceps are!”
For new students, Miller advises: “Don’t worry about steps, choreography, just get your feet moving, we’re here to have fun!”
During a personal interview in April, Miller says she received her certification at Golden Aerobics in Kirkland.
“My daughter was teaching aerobic classes,” she recalled. “I didn’t think I could, but she said yes you can! So I did.”
Miller grew up in Eastern Washington where her 94-year-old mother, sister and brother still reside. Now living in Redmond, mother of two daughters and one son, Miller says she used to clean houses for work.
“People came home thrilled; they’d say, ‘It’s Jane’s touch,’” she recalls. “I’d say, you know you have to love me because if you don’t, I’m not meant to be in your castle.”
In addition to teaching fitness classes, Miller is a licensed massage therapist.
“My passion is making people feel better; people don’t always get enough touching.” Miller smiles and notes: “I call my business ‘Jane’s Touch.’”
Meanwhile, back in the fitness class at the North Kirkland Community Center, the energy is flowing. One student quips, “I feel like I’m at a show in Las Vegas!”
Miller’s tips for health and fitness:
Have a sense of humor; don’t take life so seriously, life is short. Just take a deep breath (but not too deep).
Watch calories, watch your diet and burn calories: “Those are just basic,” Miller says.
Work out with kindred spirits. “You’re more apt to be successful if you’re with a group of women whom you like, and they like you. We care if you come to class. This is not just a class you come in, get your exercise and go home. No, we go afterwards for coffee, we laugh a lot and network.”
For more information on classes, visit www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/parks/Community_Centers.htm