We’ve often heard people throwing around the statement that “age is nothing but a number”, but 77 year old grandmother, Ernestine Shepherd, actually lives her life by this motto.
In March 2010, at the age of 73, she was awarded the title of World’s Oldest Performing Female Bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of Records.
Ernestine didn’t come from an athletic or sporting background at all. In fact, it wasn’t until she was 56 years of age that she and her sister decided that they needed to start exercising, when the pair decided that they didn’t like the way they looked in swimsuits.
Following the tragic passing of her sister Velvet about a year later from a brain aneurysm, Ernestine fell into depression and suffered panic attacks, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. With the support of her family and her church however, she was able to bravely continue towards the goal that the two sisters had set, and resumed her fitness journey.
Ernestine has claimed that it was exercise itself that rescued her from depression.
At the age of 71 she then decided to start bodybuilding, and contacted former Mr. Universe, Yohnnie Shambourger, to help her become a professional bodybuilder. Two years later she made it into the Guinness Book of Records.
Ernestine’s lifestyle is one that would make women even a third of her age cower from. She regularly gets up at 3:00am each morning and runs about 10 miles, each and every day. By 8:00am she’s in the gym and working out for just under 2 hours.And as if that’s not enough, Ernestine also works as a personal trainer. She started out by having classes at a senior citizens center, but now works at a local gym, inspiring senior citizens to get healthy and exercise. Her oldest student is 89 year of age!
Now at 77 years old, Ernestine still has no plans of stopping.
While most people a fraction of her age are constantly looking for short cuts and easy paths to staying young and vibrant, she has the wisdom to understand that it’s accessible to everyone through exercise – all you have to do is work for it:
Ernestine Shepherd is a living example of not allowing excuses such as age, size, or anything else to hold us back from achieving our goals. She is showing the world that if we truly want something, we can and will make it happen regardless.
The video below takes a quick look at this inspiring woman’s story.