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Meet The Oldest Competitive Female Bodybuilder In The World - Ernestine Shepherd

Meet The Oldest Competitive Female Bodybuilder In The World - Ernestine Shepherd
Dedication is the key to success

At the age of 80, Ernestine continues to prove that age is just a number. She continues to inspire the older generation that anything is possible, and she continues to "feel better than she did at 40". The story of this incredible woman is something that will stay with you for a very long time.


I can almost guarantee that Ernestine Shepherd is in better shape than 99% of you reading this article right now, including myself. She juggles three jobs, a personal trainer, a professional model and a competitive bodybuilder with the official Guinness World Record title: the world's oldest performing female bodyBuilder.

At the age of 56-years-old, Ernestine decided to change her life around. In 1993. she went clothes shopping with her sister, Velvet, and while trying things on, they found themselves laughing at each other. Then and there they knew it was time to get in better shape. They both decided to join a gym and started working out together

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(Credit:El Universal)

Not long after they joined the gym, Velvet died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Ernestine was devastated and understandably, she stopped working out.

But months after mourning the loss of her sister, she returned to the gym with a steely determination to get fit again and inspire senior women to reach their physical potential.

For over 25 years, Ernestine has continued to try and break records and reach her physical peak. At the age of 80, she wakes up at 4am five-days a week to complete 10 mile runs. From that day in 1993, she has run nine marathons, two bodybuilding titles, and still teaches a fitness class to this day.


After training meticulously for years, Ernestine decided to enter her first bodybuilding competition. She asked Yohnnie Shambourger, who is a former Mr. Universe, to train her. In 2007, she took first place in her class at the Natural East Coast Tournament of Champions bodybuilding competition. Incredible.

At the age of 80, she insists that she has no aches or pains, but what is her secret? According to her official website, Ernestine believes these are the key ingredients to her incredible lifestyle:

  • Begin slowly under the guidance of an expert personal trainer and gradually conditioned her body
  • The importance of good nutrition (including sufficient protein and supplements) sought out the services of a nutritionist
  • The full support of her husband of 52 years, Collin, who prepares meals and makes sure the fridge is always stocked with her seven convenient small balanced daily meals
  • Makes sure she gets the rest her body needs
  • Tries to have a positive attitude about everything, views her workouts as fun and sees her work as being on a "long happy journey"
  • Knows where she wants to go and what she wants to accomplish and do
  • Believes in encouragement, inspiration and family support and lives by her mantra " Determined - Dedicated - Disciplined To Be Fit"

    Image result for ernestine shepherdImage result for ernestine shepherd

    Ernestine insists that she is in the best shape of her life at the age of 80. She really is an inspiration to those who feel that they may be 'too old'
    "I was a total couch potato until age 56," she says, and the reality is, anybody could go to the gym four or five times a week, but it takes a special person to go through the gruelling task of becoming the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world.

  • Jack Kenmare

    Jack Kenmare is a writer at SPORTbible. He's interviewed some of the biggest names in sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pele, Carles Puyol and Tim Henman. He dabbles in all things sport but football is his biggest passion. He was once hit in the head by a wayward strike from Nicky Butt and lived to tell the tale.


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