Inspiring Women Wednesday: Ernestine Shepherd, 80 year old body builder

February 7, 2018


"Age is nothing but a number."  "Dedication is the key to success."  These are the mantras of Ernestine Shepherd, 80 year old body builder.  


Ernestine was never interested in exercise or athletics, reaching midlife as a sedentary, ‘well padded’ school secretary.  When she was 56, Ernestine and sister Velvet went swim suit shopping, and found themselves giggling at how they looked and decided then and there to start working out!  The two sisters started taking aerobic classes, but shortly thereafter Velvet died from a brain aneurysm. 


Devastated, Ernestine stopped going to the gym, and this lasted for months.  Finally one of Velvet’s friends suggested that it would make Velvet happy if Ernestine continued working out, and back to the gym she went - determined to get fit.


Starting slowly, Ernestine transformed her body, her attitude, her life!  At age 80, Ernestine’s morning starts at 4am with a 10 mile run/walk.  She lifts weights 4 days a week, and

is a personal trainer, working with senior women five days a week.  She is also a motivational speaker traveling the country, professional model, competitive body builder and half/full marathon competitor. 


Interestingly, she didn’t start competing in bodybuilding until age 71!  She hired Yohnnie


Shambourger, former Mr. Universe to train her.  In her very first contest she placed first, out posing women decades younger. 


Even with all the exercise, Ernestine doesn’t have aches or pains and has never been injured in the 24 years she has been working out!  She loves her life, takes no medications, has only 10% body fat and looks/feels at least 20 years younger than she is. 


What is her secret to defying the ‘normal’ aging process?:

  • Realize the importance of good nutrition seek out the services of a nutritionist

  • Began slowly under the guidance of an expert personal trainer and gradually conditioned your body

  • Makes sure you get all the rest your body needs

  • Try to have a positive attitude about everything, view your workouts as fun and as being on a “long happy journey”

  • Have clarity on where you want to go and what you want to accomplish and do

  • Remember: "Age is nothing but a number."  "Dedication is the key to success."


Ernestine is a HUGE Rocky fan – and the Rocky theme song is her phone’s ringtone – I thought that was super cute!  I hope this article inspired you as it did me!  Xoxo Katherine

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