top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlist Nation

Ernestine Shepard: The world's "oldest" bodybuilder


As the Guinness World Record’s Oldest Female Body Builder, Ernestine Shepard exemplifies taking your passion to the next level. At the spry age of 80, she isn’t slowing down one bit. Exercise is the key to her anti-aging lifestyle. Talk about timeless motivation.


Ernestine wasn’t a gym rat for the majority of her life. In fact, her fitness journey didn’t begin until she was 56. It was a rocky start. Her sister wanted to get Ernestine off the couch and came up with a proposal that they would enter a fitness competition. Thinking this was absolutely crazy, yet intriguing at the same time, Mrs. Shepard accepted the challenge. “She said, ‘What are we going to do, are we going to become bodybuilders’. ‘What?’ I said. ‘Yes, we are going to become bodybuilders,’ Shepard recalls” ( ). Sadly, her sister passed away following the onset of this exercise adventure, and faithful to her word, Ernestine followed through with the plan.


It’s easy to hit the snooze button and skip a workout. It’s easy to just go straight home after a long day at work. Only you know you missed your workout and if that guilt isn’t motivation enough, well then, it is time for a lesson in discipline. Adhering to a schedule creates the necessary environment for success. We are all given the same 24 hours in a day, but how we prioritize and choose to fill the hours, dictates our lifestyles. This woman wakes up at 4:30am!!!! She is on the go until 10:30pm. Each meal and workout is mapped out, and as a personal trainer, her schedule consists of training clients 10am and 7pm. She has the art of creating balance between on the go and rest very well figured out. This is an area many of us struggle with. For Ernestine, inspiring others while upholding self-care requires making a “To Do List” and sticking to it. She certainly defies any argument that there aren’t enough hours in a day.


According to Ernestine, it takes 4 things to get fit:

  1. Eat correctly

  2. Drink plenty of water

  3. Do some type of strength training

  4. Do some king of cardio

And once you start exercising, she says, “It’s a whole new ball game”. (


Inspiration comes in all forms. Bodybuilding is a true test of self-discipline and dedication. It’s never too late to find new heights to reach for and it’s never too late to start your fitness journey. One repetition at a time, work towards becoming the best version of yourself. Our bodies are capable of change, it’s the mind that must propel the endeavor forward.


Before her sister’s passing, Ernestine made the promise to her that she would follow through with their fitness goal. Accountability is challenging for many. The promises we make to ourselves are often the hardest to keep. Telling others and ourselves what we plan to do is one thing, but the DOING is what counts. ACTION. If the worst person we let down is ourselves, sometimes it’s easy to just keep hitting the re-set button. In other words, if the alarm goes off at 5am to hit the gym before work, and you choose to hit snooze, only YOU know that the day didn’t start as planned and only YOU know that tomorrow you will try again. Value the sanctity of a promise. Let your reflection in the mirror speak to you. Ernestine’s sister would certainly be proud watching from above.

bottom of page