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Ratliff Rattlers shake it to stay fit

Like their brand new t-shirts say, these Marengo County residents really ”know how to shake it.’

However, their bodies are grooving to a different kind of tune.

As contemporary Christian music blared from a small CD player in the large Theo Ratliff gymnasium, the Ratliff Center Rattlers stepped, jumped and clapped all in the name of good health and even better spirits.

“It’s a good way to stay fit,” Ann Hunter said as she stood in the Ratliff Center lobby.

“And it’s about the fellowship,” class instructor Charlene Harris said as she waited for her crowd to show.

Although the group first began exercising in the Christian Chapel community center a few years ago, the crowd made the move to the Ratliff Center in February after taking a brief intermission.

“We decided to get it started again because we were sitting in the house, doing nothing and gaining weight,” Harris said with a chuckle. “But I just love aerobics and all types of exercise.”

Even though the Harris leads the Rattlers during the exercise session, most participants are truly moved by the upbeat sounds of Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary and many other Christian artists.

And, according to regular attendees, dancing to the rhythm really does make a difference.

“Almost everyone is loosing weight,” Rattler Aggie Perry said. “Things are going well.”

“They’ve been doing this for a while,” Jackie Ward said of Perry and Harris, “but I just joined because of the health benefits.”

As of right now, there are approximately 22 Rattlers, and the group is “growing every week,” Harris said.

“We have people all the way from Dixons Mills coming up,” she said.

However there is room for plenty more on the basketball courts at the Ratliff Center.

The Rattlers boogie every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the center at 6 p.m. The program is open to anyone, regardless of age or sex, who wants to get fit and fellowship with a warm, fun crowd of area residents.

The Ratliff Rattlers are Jackie Ward, Mary Turner, Willie Adams, Charlene Harris, Catherine Jones, Monica Ash, Lynn Ass, Patsy Akins, Bobbie Mitchell, Aggie Perry, Ann Hunter, Elnora Morisette, Genelle Ward, Tyler Goodwin, Debra Seaborn, Ruby Williams, Wanda Landrum, Mary Burns, Ruby Meriweather and Cecilia Culberston.