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Ernestine Shepherd Made History at 81 Years Old

The 81-Year-Old Bodybuilder Who Inspires Other To Get Fit

Ernestine began her fitness journey at age 56, and at age 81 she won her first bodybuilding competition. Now she inspires others to get into fitness – whatever their age.

Ernestine Shepherd


Ernestine Shepherd (born June 16, 1936) is an American bodybuilder who is best known for being, at one point, the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world, as declared by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010; as of 2017 she is 82 years old and still an active, albeit no longer competitive, bodybuilder.

Shepherd was a model in Baltimore for years, but at age 56 she and her sister Mildred Blackwell went to try on swimsuits and found their bodies were out of shape; they then started taking aerobics classes. Her sister began competing in bodybuilding shows under the name Velvet, and Ernestine followed under the name Ernie. However, her sister died in 1992 following a brain aneurysm.

Shepherd carries on her bodybuilding career in part to remember her sister. Since the age of 56, she has won two bodybuilding titles, as well as run nine marathons. She also leads exercise classes for seniors at the Union Memorial United Methodist Church in Baltimore, and works as a personal trainer. She published a book, Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined To Be Fit, in 2016.

Her diet consists of 1,700 calories a day, mostly from boiled egg whites, chicken, vegetables and a liquid egg white drink, and she runs about 80 miles a week; she affirms that she does not take supplements. She is trained by former Mr. Universe Yohnnie Shambourger. To learn more about Ernestine Shepherd go to the link below.

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