This 83-Year-Old Bodybuilding Champion Only Started Exercising At Age 56

When one typically thinks about aging, one imagines slowing down. Instead of hitting the gym, older people usually relax, enjoying the rewards of a life of hard work and dedication.

However, one octogenarian isn’t content to rest on the laurels of her past. Rather, this 83-year-old lady has dedicated her life to building a better body and is living proof that it is never too late to become interested in fitness.

Ernestine Shepherd of Maryland once hated exercise. Describing her younger self as too prissy to exercise with a love for chocolate cake, Ernestine did not begin exercising regularly until she was 56. The now-famous bodybuilder told reporters with the BBC that she was inspired to go to the gym when she and her sister Velvet didn’t like how they looked when trying on swimsuits at a local department store. This made the women determined to get in shape.

"We started off doing aerobics but then we moved on to lifting weights and, eventually, we really got into bodybuilding," she told the publication. "One day, Velvet turned to me and said, “We should try and get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bodybuilding sisters in the world!”  

Sadly, just a few months into their training, Velvet tragically passed away from a brain aneurysm. 

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Sadly, just a few months into their training, Velvet tragically passed away from a brain aneurysm. 

 “I want you to continue what we’re doing even though I won’t make it,” she told me, just before she passed away. “I want you to inspire other senior ladies, and anyone who will listen, to exercise.”

Training hard each day, Ernestine consulted with Yohnnie Shambourger, a former Mr. Universe, for advice on bodybuilding. At the age of 71, Ernestine was ready to compete professionally. Winning first place in her very first competition, Ernestine also achieved her dream of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female bodybuilder.

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While Ernestine doesn’t compete professionally anymore, she still hits the gym regularly as she continues to build up her strength. Those lucky enough can also seek Ernestine’s advice as a personal trainer. A frequent guest on television talk shows, Ernestine hopes to inspire the world to exercise and eat healthily.

In many of her television appearances, Ernestine recommends that people who want to build better bodies follow a diet that includes lots of egg whites, tuna, and poultry, such as turkey and chicken. In 2016, Ernestine released a book entitled Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined To Be Fit, giving a wider audience all the information they need to be fit.

What do you think of the way Ernestine was able to dedicate her life to bodybuilding at the age of 56? Do you have any advice for those interested in living a healthier lifestyle? Let us know in the comments - and make sure you pass this along to your friends and family!