Fitness in the time of Covid

Beth KinnaneGet Up & Go, Sevier

Sometimes there are chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Sometimes she forgets to take enough water with her. Yes, even local fitness expert Missy Kane is not always absolutely perfect in her diet and exercise habits.


“Believe it or not, I am one of those people who has to make myself drink enough water,” Kane said with a laugh. “Last night I baked cookies for my grandson and had a couple this morning.”

Missy Kane

Kane, who doesn’t look one bit of her 65 years, emphasized the importance of consistency over perfection in diet and physical fitness. She tries to get 75-100 miles in weekly, whether by foot, pedal or paddle. She makes it a family affair, and is often accompanied by some combination of her husband, Jim Bemiller, a UT professor in sports management, daughters Gracie Bemiller and Kelsey Kane Holtzman, son-in-law Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman (a UFC fighter), 2-year-old grandson Hayes Holtzman, and, of course, her dog, Nala.

The former Olympian is currently the health promotions coordinator for Covenant Health. A member of the Tennessee Sports, Knoxville Sports and Lady Vol halls of fame, she also hosts hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Get on Trail with Friends and Missy. Her involvement has raised over $225,000 for Friends of the Smokies since 1998.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the 2020 calendar of events, and Kane is currently coordinating with Friends on rebooting delayed programs in an appropriate manner.

“We have to find a way to get things up and going again, but with reduced numbers,” she said. “It’s obviously not a good time to have a hiking group of 50 people or having people carpool to an event.” The aim is to have events on board for October.

Kane prefers biking, walking, running or hiking to the gym. “Being outside in nature is important to your well-being. You get a mental, emotional and spiritual boost,” she said. She does, however, make use of the Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center. “It’s very clean and open and provides for social distancing while exercising. I’d encourage anyone to try it out.”

Kane has found herself bicycling more instead of running in the heat of summer. She said cycling is also more amenable to social distancing. With the reduction in travel, locals are finding more ways to get outdoors and exercise in their own backyards, and cycling has been a big part of that. She does throw up some words of caution for newcomers.

“We need more water safety PSAs, more bicycle safety PSAs. You don’t need to go bike Cades Cove if you haven’t been on a bike in 20 years. And it’s not the place to see how fast you can go,” Kane said. But she encourages everyone to get out and enjoy, just to not bite off more than they can chew. Her Fall 2020 newsletter (linked here) provides a sampling of resources and information for less crowded trails and locations for outdoor activities. She has her long-running Fit and Fun exercise show airing on local PBS, Monday through Friday at 6:30 a.m. Most episodes were completed before safer at home went into place, and many episodes can be found on YouTube.

In terms of strengthening the immune system to battle COVID-19, Kane stressed the importance of getting in some aerobic exercise, pushing the lungs because “lung volume is so important. Try to take more steps, even if it’s just 20 minutes every day, walking up and down your driveway. Every other day or so, try to go longer, an hour to two hours.”

A cancer survivor, Kane is working on how to offer a Race Against Cancer event this November for Thompson Cancer Survival Center in a safe way, and hopes there will be an announcement by the end of the week.

Beth Kinnane is a freelance writer and thoroughbred bloodstock agent.

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