Meet the World’s Oldest Female Bodybuilder

Ernestine Shepherd didn’t start bodybuilding until late in life, but her journey has been astounding. “Age is nothing but a number and you can get fit.” Wise words from the oldest competing female bodybuilder in the world, currently at age 81. Every day, Shepherd wakes up at 2:30, does her devotions, eats the same breakfast, and sings the same morning song. You’d be happy and feeling younger than your age with this as your mantra too:

Oh, I can’t sit down, got to keep a rollin’, like the rollin’ song.

Of course, Shepherd wasn’t always involved in bodybuilding. Her sister, who passed away from a brain aneurysm, encouraged the two of them to get in shape together. Their goal was to be the two oldest female bodybuilders in The Guinness Book of World Records.

The pair worked diligently to make their dream a reality. When her sister died, Shepherd went to pieces. She lost the will to do anything. She ended up with high blood pressure, panic attacks, acid reflux, and depression. Finally, one day her sister came to her in a dream and said, “Get up and do what I asked you to do.” It took her some time, but Shepherd made up her mind that she would fulfill the dream her sister had for them.

Now Shepherd does the same thing day in and day out. The results speak for themselves — the oldest female bodybuilder alive. No high blood pressure medicine, no panic attack medicine, no acid reflux medicine. She practices what she preaches. When she started training other women, it was with just 10 in the classroom. That class has grown to the point where some mornings not everyone can fit in the room. Then men wanted her to train them too.

“Age is nothing but a number and you can get fit.”

One of her students, a 61-year-old, said this about Shepherd’s class, “It’s deeper than just coming to this class and working out.” Another said, “[Shepherd] made me want to live again, mentally. The spirit of this woman dragged me back.”

Ernestine Shepherd is living inspiration of what can be done with the correct mindset. Age is just a number, and being fit is a matter of believing in yourself.

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