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Meet Ernestine Shepherd, The World's Oldest Bodybuilder
The Post Game ^ | June 3, 2011 | Andy Wasif

Posted on 06/29/2011 7:59:38 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby

Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with Ernestine Shepherd at the Book Expo of America in New York City. As we converse, Expo attendees walk by and stare in awe. I look up to scold them, "Please, stop staring. I'm only a man, just like any other man!" I shout. Then I realize their attentions are directed at Ernestine.

For you see, to be 5-5 and 120 pounds with less than 10 percent body fat and a bench press of 150 pounds is very impressive as far as virile, young women go. But in a day and age when the only push-up the majority of people know refers to sherbet in a tube, to be that way as a 74-year-old woman is downright inspiring.

Ernestine is indeed 74, a mother, wife of 58 years, a grandmother -- it gives her grandkids the rare schoolyard retort of "My grandmother can beat up your grandmother," a competition that's, no doubt, deep in development at Spike TV -– an avid marathoner and the reigning record-holder of "World's Oldest Bodybuilder."

Every day, this muscle granny is in bed by 10:30 p.m., up at 3 a.m. She runs around 80 miles a week. (For those of you doing the math, that's a heckuva lot.) And she works (yes, works!) as a personal trainer, doing her sessions at NRG Fitness & Wellness and the Union Memorial United Methodist Church. Retirement is a four-letter word to her.

But she is human. She takes a nap in the middle of the day before returning to her sessions later in the afternoon.

How did this begin? Contrary to popular belief, she was not shipped from her home planet to escape its destruction only to find work at a daily metropolitan newspaper.

In actuality, Ernestine, an office secretary and lifetime sedentary body, was 56 when she and her sister, Mildred, were invited to a pool party. She explains, "We needed bathing suits so we bought them. When we put them on and modeled them in front of the mirror, we did not like what we saw."

So they attended the party without suits -– er, that is not to say they were naked. They wore the same clothes they always had -- and at the party, they heard people talking of exercise and decided to get into it.

After her first aerobics class, Ernestine recalls, "Oh, God, I was sore," but went back nonetheless. After several weeks, the sisters observed great changes to their bodies and decided to incorporate weight training to their routines.

And their bodies responded even more noticeably. As Mildred made even greater strides, Ernestine felt she had to keep up. In fact, it was Mildred who began to consider a goal of becoming the oldest bodybuilder in the world, a goal Ernestine may never have set for herself.

Fate has a cruel way of manipulating goals, however, and after some time went by, Mildred grew ill. Sensing her time was short, she made a request of Ernestine: Should Mildred not survive, Ernestine would fulfill her goal to become the world's oldest bodybuilder. Ernestine promised, but still was caught off-guard when Mildred passed away of a brain aneurysm shortly thereafter in 1992.

Instead of attacking her training with a renewed sense of purpose, Ernestine went in the opposite direction and withdrew completely. The gains and practices she had achieved over the past few years disappeared, returning her to a pre-bathing suit wearing state. In addition, she was mired with high blood pressure, acid reflux and fighting depression without her late sibling.

She was back to square one when she returned to the gym and hired a trainer, Raymond Day, who quickly saw her potential and reminded her of the promise she made to Mildred.

And, as Ernestine was merely presenting trophies at a bodybuilding show, Day told her it was time she got involved in the competition itself.

After training her for more than 15 years, Day referred Ernestine to another trainer, Yohnnie Shambourger, who also happened to be "Mr. Universe 1995," having defeated bodybuilders from Uranus, Jupiter and the Nebula Galaxy to earn that title.

Twice a week, she meets with Shambourger at his center and lets him put her through the paces. And don't think he goes easy on her simply because she is -- by the definition put forth in Webster's Dictionary by people with no knowledge of this woman -- "elderly."

He has her on a diet of only 1,700 calories a day, featuring mostly chicken, boiled egg whites and veggies. Your average bodybuilder will consume double that. (Big Mac aficionados will as well.)

He still increases her program as needed, based on her development. For instance, he noticed that she wasn’t lifting heavy enough on her legs and added weight there.

Fast-forward to 2008 for her first competition in Washington D.C. where Ernestine came in first place in the Masters Division. In 2009, the Guinness Book of World Records people got wind of her victory and thought she might be worthy of their mention.

It wasn't until another year had gone by when they called the now-champion bodybuilder back and invited her to a ceremony in Italy where they would officially present her with the title of "World’s Oldest Bodybuilder," having done their due diligence. (They didn’t want to make the claim only to have a muscular 90-year-old from Namibia come gunning for them.)

Ernestine arrived there on March 16, 2010, a day that happened to be Mildred’s birthday. She was given tag No. 316 and remembers Mildred's favorite song, "MacArthur Park," was playing on a loud speaker. "It was unbelievable to me," Ernestine says. She made a stop at the historic Coliseum where she sprinkled Mildred's ashes and cried.

The emotional purge behind her, Ernestine now moves forward with no end in sight. And why should she stop? "I have no aches and pains," she says, as I shake out the crippling cramp from my hand.

"I want to inspire and motivate seniors to a happy and healthy and confident life," she says. "Eat correctly. Get out and do something -- walking, running, jumping, anything."

Her motto is "Determined, dedicated, disciplined to be fit. Age is nothing but a number."

For the gathering crowd, she proves the validity of this statement by dropping to the floor and busting out a dozen push-ups. Then, in case the young folks around weren't impressed enough, she raises one leg and continues for several more, before alternating legs.

Finally, over to the pull-up bar they’ve brought in, she muscles her way to a half dozen while several of the on-lookers are treated for exhaustion.

Ernestine next competes on Saturday at the Capital Tournament of Champions in Silver Spring, Md. It's a mere nine days before she turns the clock ahead one more tick, to three-quarters-of-a-century old.

Her spirit only proves that anyone can someday find themselves in her shoes, holding the distinction as "World's Oldest Bodybuilder"... though something says the age is going to be a whole lot higher by the time Ernestine Shepherd is done.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: athlete; bodybuilder; grandmother; seniorcitizen; sports

1 posted on 06/29/2011 7:59:42 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Click on the link to see her pics. She looks AWESOME.

2 posted on 06/29/2011 8:02:49 PM PDT by Lizavetta (You get what you tolerate)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

I am super impressed, she looks about 30.

3 posted on 06/29/2011 8:32:17 PM PDT by Rembrandt (.. AND the donkey you rode in on.)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

I expected a good laugh, but she really does look fabulous.

4 posted on 06/29/2011 8:41:54 PM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Amazing. It really does make a person wonder if there isn’t a much better way.
I have seen marathoners that age who have legs like that.

5 posted on 06/29/2011 8:43:42 PM PDT by HereInTheHeartland (2008 was about words; 2012 will be about numbers)
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To: Lizavetta

Wow. I mean WOW! What a lovely woman. She should have her own TV show.

6 posted on 06/29/2011 8:54:33 PM PDT by fullchroma
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby


7 posted on 06/29/2011 9:05:36 PM PDT by SoldierDad (Proud dad of an Army Soldier currently deployed in the Valley of Death, Afghanistan)
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To: Rembrandt
"I am super impressed, she looks about 30."

From the back.
From about 100 yards.
If you close one eye...

8 posted on 06/29/2011 9:07:51 PM PDT by Redbob (W.W.J.B.D.: "What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
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To: SoldierDad

How do I upload pictures on FR?

9 posted on 06/29/2011 9:14:35 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

The question is: would Laz hit it?

10 posted on 06/29/2011 9:27:20 PM PDT by bolobaby
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby; Pride in the USA; Stillwaters
Holy schmoly.

11 posted on 06/29/2011 9:48:03 PM PDT by lonevoice (Where the Welfare State is on the march, the Police State is not far behind)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

Good for her! It sure beats sitting in a LazyBoy all day.

12 posted on 06/29/2011 10:01:42 PM PDT by Amberdawn
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby

She does look awesome. Wonder how at her age she can keep those curves? She has to have some kind of hormones.

13 posted on 06/29/2011 10:28:13 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
"World's Oldest Bodybuilder"

World's Oldest Female Bodybuilder

14 posted on 06/30/2011 1:17:31 AM PDT by SuperLuminal (Where is another agitator for republicanism like Sam Adams when we need him?)
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To: TheDingoAteMyBaby
If you have not received any help since you pinged me with this question, I'll provide below a link to an html tutorial that will provide the basics for how to use html for links, pictures, etc. Click on the link below. If you need more help Kathy In Alaska is a FRiend you should ask. There is a website where pictures can be loaded onto and then posted on FR from there. I have used this, but not enough to recall the steps without a refresher from Kathy.

html tutorial

15 posted on 07/20/2011 2:15:42 PM PDT by SoldierDad (Proud dad of an Army Soldier currently deployed in the Valley of Death, Afghanistan)
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To: SoldierDad


16 posted on 07/21/2011 4:39:18 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
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