On a stage in Rome in 2010, the Guinness World Records named Ernestine Shepherd the World’s Oldest Performing Female Body Builder. She was 73 years old and it had only been 3 years since she started training in body building. Now 80, Shepherd isn’t slowing down and she’s still competing and looking stronger than many men and women half her age.

Health and fitness weren’t on Shepherd’s priorities list for much of the first half of her life. She worked as a school secretary and had never worked out.

In fact, her website describes her pre-body-building days by saying “she was a sedentary, well-padded school secretary… who had never worked out a day in her life.”

It all changed when, at 56, Shepherd went swimsuit shopping with her sister, Velvet. After having a good laugh in the fitting room, both sisters agreed it was time to get into shape and together they joined a gym.

Sadly, Velvet died suddenly and after a period of mourning, Shepherd realized that her sister would have wanted her to continue their quest for a healthier life. She was determined to see the goal to its completion. 

Waking up at 4 a.m., Shepherd runs 10 miles each morning and competes in marathons. In 2007, she asked former Mr. Universe, Yohnnie Shambourger, to train her for body building competitions.

After only seven months, she won her first competition.

She has no aches or pains and has never been injured. Her body fat percentage rivals elite male athletes at 9-10%. Holy cow!

Besides competing, Shepherd also works as a personal trainer, mostly with senior women. 
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h/t Ernestine Shepherd