Are you intimidated by the gym? Do you feel like it’s too late to get in shape? An 80-year-old grandmother from Baltimore named Ernestine Shepherd is just the person to inspire you to get fit. She has an unbelievable physique and an impressive record. Ernestine’s story proves that anything is possible with determination and hard work. Shepherd didn’t work out at all for the first fifty years of her life. According to her, she was ” a sedentary, well-padded school secretary and ‘slug’ who had never worked out a day in her life.” At age 56, the experience of trying on swimsuits pushed her to try to get in shape. She and her sister Mildred started taking aerobics classes together. Soon thereafter, Mildred got into competitive bodybuilding and Ernestine followed.
When Mildred died of a brain aneurysm, Ernestine’s health suffered as she was overwhelmed with grief. She eventually returned to fitness and decided to pursue the bodybuilding dreams she and her sister had started together. The two had talked about becoming the oldest female bodybuilders in the world, and Ernestine has now reached that goal in memory of her beloved sister.
Shepherd has been named the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records and she has won several bodybuilding titles against much younger competitors. In addition to bodybuilding, this grandmother is also a runner who regularly competes in 5K and 10K races as well as marathons. She typically starts her day with a 10-mile run. When training for a marathon, she’ll run up to 80 miles per week. She also strength trains four days a week and can bench press over 150 lbs. Ernestine eats a healthy diet, uses no medications, and says she feels better than ever.
This inspiring bodybuilder now uses her story and her skills to train and inspire others. She works as a personal trainer and teaches fitness classes, catering especially to senior women. She is an author and speaker who makes frequent media appearances to share her story. She also maintains an active presence on her Facebook fan page. The message she preaches most is one that she embodies fully: age is nothing but a number.
In addition to being a fitness role model, Shepard has a happy family life. She and her husband Collin will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year.