Ernestine Shepherd: Building a Better Body at Any Age
By Mia Evans-Saracual
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: November 17, 2010
The face of this bodybuilding sensation has graced the pages of the Guinness Book of World records. At 74, Ernestine Shepherd has earned a place in history as the world’s oldest female bodybuilder.
Mia Evans-Sarcual: Now that you’ve reached your goal, how do you feel?
Ernestine: It feels great. I’m so proud of being in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Mia: Look at these biceps! How much do you bench press?
Ernestine: I can bench press 150 pounds.
Ernestine, or Ernie as she likes to be called, didn’t even step foot into the gym until she was 56. Now, 20 years later, the bodybuilding champ is in the best shape of her life.
Ernestine: Age is nothing but a number. You can get fit at any age. I feel so much better now in my 70s than I did in my 40s.
In 2008 she entered her first bodybuilding competition and took home a winning trophy. She maintains her sculpted physique with the help of her trainer Yohnnie Shambourger, a former Mister Universe. She does it without steroids or any other medication.
Ernestine: You can be a bodybuilder. You do not have to take a lot of supplements. You can do it naturally, and you can look good.
But Ernie, who’s also a model, wants more than just a chiseled body and six-pack abs.
Ernestine: The mission that I’m on, and I call it a mission, is to help and to inspire and motivate people on the importance of being fit. God had placed that in my heart to do this work.
Ernie doubles as a personal trainer and fitness instructor at Energy Fitness Center in Randallstown, Maryland. And she holds weekly classes at her church in nearby Baltimore. Wherever she goes, she inspires people of all ages to live healthier lives without limits.
Esther Holimon (Pastor, Union Memorial United Methodist Church):
She looks great. I don’t know any woman who doesn’t want to look good in their clothes and feel great, and she is a perfect example of that.
After 37 –year-old Avon Carroll hired Ernie to be his trainer, he lost 40 pounds.
Avon: When you see somebody 74 years old that can outrun you, that can do more reps than you,that has that much energy, you realize it’s not too late.
Ernestine: I always say you need to be determined, dedicated, disciplined to be fit.
For Ernie, health and fitness begins with her relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Ernestine: Each morning I awaken at 3:00. Before I do anything, I have my morning devotions, because I have to thank God for what He’s done for me. Prayer is so important. All the exercising in the world is not going to help if you don’t pray about it. God is so good. I can say that I truly, truly love the Lord.”
After prayer, Ernie hits the pavement at 4 AM, for her daily ten-mile run. She loves running marathons.
Ernestine: Exercise is fun for me because here I am, 74 years old, or should I say young. It’s fun. I want to see how far and how long I can keep up the running. If I had it in my mind that it was work, I really wouldn’t want to do it.
At home, Ernie sticks to a strict high-protein diet, which includes three glasses of raw egg whites a day. Collins, her husband of 53 years, helps prepare her special meals.
Collins: My wife is truly amazing. She’s quite an inspiration to me. She’s one of a kind.
Ernestine: As long as I am healthy, I will continue doing this. I really want to help as many people as I can, to let them know don’t let life pass you by. You can be fit. Then also, to let them know that God loves them too. What He has done for me He will do for them too.
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