In general, many people tend to associate the process of ageing with the concept of getting weaker. It seems almost inevitable that as we approach the latter years of our lives, the levels of strength and stamina we had when we were much younger start to fade away. But then people like Ernestine Shepherd come along and completely shatter that image.
Ernestine Shepherd is one of the world’s oldest female bodybuilders.
She’s currently aged 83, having been born in June of 1936, and she’s still working out, building up her muscles, and looking absolutely fabulous.
Perhaps the most astonishing part of Ernestine’s story is how it all began. She’d never actually set foot inside a gym until the age of 56!
It was while shopping for swimsuits with her sister that Ernestine realized she was a little out of shape, so the siblings decided to start up aerobics classes together. As she told the BBC:
I was always too prissy to work out – and you couldn’t get me away from chocolate cake. But the year I turned 56, my sister Velvet and I went shopping for swimsuits. Neither of us had worn one for years. We looked in the changing room mirror, and made a pact to get in better shape.
Ernestine and her sister, Velvet, started off with simple training, but then they made the shift to bodybuilding and weight lifting, with Velvet eventually deciding that they should try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bodybuilding sisters on the planet.
It was an ambitious idea, but an exciting one. Unfortunately, Velvet never got to see that dream come true, dying shortly afterwards from a brain aneurysm. Heartbroken, but motivated to succeed, Ernestine vowed to live out her sister’s dream however she could.
She trained exceptionally hard, actually getting in touch with a former Mr. Universe named Yohnnie Shambourger to help train her up.
At the age of 71, she entered her first bodybuilding competition and took home the top prize! It was then that Guinness got in touch to give Ernestine her title as the world’s oldest female bodybuilder.
She lost the title a couple of years later, but still remained one of the oldest female bodybuilders on Earth and continued training up, as well as getting invited onto TV shows to meet stars like Steve Harvey and other bodybuilding legends like Lee Haney.
As the years have gone by, Ernestine continued to blow judges and audiences away at bodybuilding competitions, all the way into her eighties.
She’s retired from competing now, but is still an active bodybuilder, enjoying an extraordinary diet including a lot of egg whites, chicken, tuna, and turkey spread out across five meals throughout the day.
She’s inspired a lot of people, with many young gym-goers coming up and asking her for tips and help over the years. She started work as a personal trainer and even published her own book: Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined To Be Fit.
Ernestine is an inspiration to all of us; genuine proof that it’s never too late in life to make changes if you want to become fitter, happier, and healthier.
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