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A physical – and spiritual – workout

Group combines learning scripture with getting fit

A physical – and spiritual – workout

A physical – and spiritual – workout

Gloria Leeb (from left), Laverne Batt...


They gather in the bottom floor of Statesboro First Baptist Church a couple of times a week and stretch, warm up, exercise and cool down. They also share concerns, pray for one another and learn scripture.

Women of several denominations meet regularly for PraiseMoves, an international fitness ministry that benefits participants physically and spiritually.

PraiseMoves, founded by Laurette Willis in 2001, uses a series of stretching and strength-building postures, each linked to a verse in the Bible, to build strength, flexibility and balance.

Attendees follow the guidance of a certified PraiseMoves instructor and repeat the associated scripture aloud while stretching or working out. Soft, instrumental music plays in the background, and fans are switched on when needed.

Gloria Leeb, certified instructor, has been leading women in workouts for about eight years.

“I just feel like God has given me a passion, not just for my own health, but to help other people take care of their bodies,” Leeb said. “And anybody can come because the moves can be modified to meet their health needs.”

Sally Waters, a member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church, has participated with PraiseMoves for more than three years and understands about modifying the workout. Waters, who exercised with a boot on her foot to protect a broken toe, avoided only a few moves.

“I really feel like my health is better because of PraiseMoves,” she said. “I love how you can be doing something good for your body and be filling your heart and mind with good things. It’s such a good use of my time to do the two things together.”

Becky Johnson, another certified instructor, leads the PraiseMoves Basic two mornings each week for those who need a less-strenuous workout. Johnson enjoys leading the other women and sees the physical benefits of the class, but especially enjoys her time with God during the workout.

Because I’m first praising and worshipping God, I never get tired of the PraiseMoves exercise program,” she said.

Laverne Batten, the third certified instructor in the group, said her passion for the program stems from her mother’s illness. Batten’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, had just died when Batten moved back to Statesboro.

Speaking of her mom’s illness, Batten said: “I knew it was important to get the blood flowing to the brain. I thought, ‘It’s a mean disease, and I don’t want it.’”

Even though her husband loves the gym, Batten quickly decided it wasn’t for her. But it was at the gym where she talked with Gloria Leeb, someone she’d met at an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support group, and Leeb invited her to join PraiseMoves.

Batten did, loved it and became a certified instructor, and believes her health – physical and spiritual – has improved greatly since joining.

Batten chuckles when she shares how the workouts have affected her time with her grandchildren.
“I was doing a zip line on vacation with my grandson, Hudson,” she said, “and a little girl in line asked, ‘Is that your grandma? My grandma would never do this.’”

The PraiseMoves instructors welcome new participants. For more information, call the First Baptist Church office, (912) 764-5627.

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