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My Generation

Ernestine Shepherd: World's Oldest Female Bodybuilder

At 75, she continues to be an ageless inspiration

June 11, 2012, editor's note: Ernestine Shepherd is now 75 and still going strong.

Ernestine Shepherd, 74, competing in a bodybuilding competition

Ernestine Shepherd entered her first bodybuilding competition in her 70s. — Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post/Getty Images

People spend thousands of dollars a year trying to relax wrinkles, keep the gray at bay or hide their handles. It’s all in an effort to capture the mythical fountain of youth. But if you ask Ernestine Shepherd, of Baltimore, what her anti-aging pill of choice is, she’ll tell you exercise.

Recently inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest competitive female bodybuilder, Ernestine, 74, began pumping iron when she was in her 50s. It was a pastime she shared with her sister, Mildred, until she passed away. Now with a renewed determination, dedication and discipline, she is watching the seed planted by her sister blossom in her life.

Ernestine runs several miles a day, is a personal trainer and continues to compete as a professional bodybuilder. She uses her life and flex appeal to be an ageless inspiration to those around her.

“Exercise is the ultimate anti-aging pill,” she says. And once you see her six-pack abs, you will agree. Her husband of 54 years, Collin, prepares all of Ernestine’s meals and runs errands for her so she can have more time to train. And who better to train with than a former Mr. Universe? Yohnnie Shambourger works with Ernestine to keep her physique fit as a fiddle. For him, “age is just a number when it comes to fitness.”

This grandma agrees — and she's ready to pump you up!

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