Ever felt like you’re too old to do something? Well, you’re not. And Ernestine Shepherd is proof of that. In 2010, she became the world’s oldest female bodybuilder, and believe it or not, the iron-pumping grandma recently turned 80. (Although, now the record goes to E. Wilma Connor, born in 1935).


Born on June 16th, 1936, the octogenarian from Baltimore didn’t start exercising until she was 56 years old. As a child, she sustained an injury in a car accident and was never active as a result, even receiving permission to not participate in physical education classes at school.

As she explains in the video below, she started getting active with the help of her sister, Velvet. Ernestine was a high school receptionist at the time and loved chocolate cake and junk food. But the pair of sisters were both unhappy with their “bikini bodies”, and so started casually going to the gym. Ernestine admitted to not being as interested in it as her sister Velvet was, explaining she was worried that working out would make her less feminine. (Read more: This Mom Dropped 3 Dress Sizes Using Weight Training)

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After her sister passed away from a brain aneurysm, however, Shepherds struggled with depression and panic attacks. That was, until she felt motivated by the pledge she made to her sister- to motivate other people and to land a spot in the Guinness’ Book of World Records.


Today, she regularly wakes up at 3 am, runs about 80 miles (130km) per week, and lives off a calorie-controlled diet of boiled egg whites, chicken, vegetables, and lots of water.

Ask her what her true secret of success if, however, and she’ll say it’s to ‘never give up.’ Keep that statement in mind next time you think about skipping the gym. She also shares that her family “kept me going all these years”.


Following is a video that relays eighty year-old Ernestine Shepherd’s inspirational story:

This article, b  (The World’s Oldest BodyBuilder Just Turned 80! Here Are Her Secrets…) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com. All photo credits: Ernestine Shepherd.

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