ALKOL, W.Va. -- Research says people who live in isolated areas, who don't make much money, who don't have a college education and who don't live near a gym or grocery store have a tough time staying fit or losing weight.
But the five core members of the Mud River Volunteer Fire Department -- the Mud River Pound Punchers -- lost an average of 71 pounds apiece in the last six months of 2011. They dramatically chopped their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
"We don't read research. We just do it," said organizer Melisa Ferrell.
Why did the Mud River women succeed when they theoretically weren't supposed to? What can we learn from them? Several West Virginia health experts have theories:
"They had no gym nearby, so they got a bunch of secondhand equipment and put it in the fire department. They didn't have a walking track, so they used the road. It's a little dangerous, so they wear stripes on their coats, to show up in the dark."