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Spring has sprung—but, for some, New Year’s fitness resolutions already may be a distant memory.

Whether you are struggling to keep a promise you made to yourself at the beginning of the year or racing to trim down before summer arrives, fitness routines are difficult to begin and even more difficult to maintain throughout the year.

Feeling discouraged? Never fear: several College of Arts and Sciences faculty members with established fitness regimens share their experiences and fitness tips for beginners.

Linda Kah walks on campus.

Kah: Walk between meetings

Linda Kah, a professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences, has walked four to five miles each day for the past few years. When she is not teaching classes, training graduate students, conducting research, or spending time with her ten-year-old son, Douglas, she enjoys walking laps of the Ayres Hall circle.

“If I have ten minutes between meetings, I can go out and do a couple of laps,” Kah said. “Sometimes I even grab one of my grad students, and we have a walking meeting.”

Battling borderline type-two diabetes, Kah carefully tracks her food intake and physical activity using a fitness watch.

fitness -- Barnett
Jennifer Barnett, assistant director in the College of Arts and Sciences financial and administrative affairs office, at a road race with her husband, Craig, and sons, Josiah (left) and Nathanael (right).

Barnett: Find a fitness friend

Jennifer Barnett, coordinator III in Arts and Sciences administration, works out at the gym or with a personal trainer three to four times a week and runs regularly.

“My favorite part about running is the time to just zone out and think. The hardest part is always the first mile.”

Barnett started running three years ago and frequently trains with her husband. To those interested in running, she recommends finding a workout companion.

“It can be a significant other, a good friend or even a trainer,” Barnett said. “Having someone that is on your side and who will motivate you in a positive way makes a huge difference.”

When they are not running together, the couple also enjoys hiking with their two sons to stay active.

Alexandria Benson belly dances.

Benson: Try something different

Alexandria Benson, an administrative specialist, takes a less traditional approach to exercise.

After graduating from college, Benson moved to Jordan for a year and took several belly dancing lessons. After returning to Knoxville, she continued to belly dance and eventually joined a professional troupe.

“Belly dance gives me such an amazing way to express myself artistically,” Benson said. “I love having a creative outlet and being able to use my love of performance in a unique and unexpected style of dance.”

She spends three to four hours each week belly dancing and rehearsing, as well as taking Zumba classes three to four days a week. The uncommon fitness practice elicits all kinds of responses from her colleagues.

“I love the surprised and astonished looks that cross people’s faces when I tell them that I belly dance.”

Though the path to proper health and fitness may be discouraging at times, Benson offers advice applicable to anyone interested in starting a workout regimen.

“Don’t be afraid to not be the best when you start out. You will rob yourself of something amazing.”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,