A United Methodist woman isn’t just fighting to stay young. She’s winning. Seventy-five-year old Ernestine Shepherd holds the Guinness record as the world’s oldest female bodybuilder. How does she do it? Physical, and spiritual, fitness.
(Locator: Baltimore, Maryland)
Ernestine Shepherd: “My joy is working out, running. It makes me feel great and I love to inspire and motivate others. I never really get tired. My name is Ernestine Shepherd. I'm 75 years old and I am the world's oldest female competitive bodybuilder. I awaken every morning at 3 o'clock. I run about 10 miles every morning. I work out at the gym for about one hour, 45 minutes. I have my class that I train for an hour. After that, I have other people I train for approximately 2 hours. My church is Union Memorial United Methodist Church. I've been a member there approximately 54 years.”
(Ernestine greeting friends at church) “Come on Wally. Good morning, how are you?”
Wally Gumbs, Fellow Church Member: “This woman's got the body of a teenager. And I said, ‘that's unbelievable,’ but I'm looking and seeing for myself.”
(Ernestine greeting friends at church) “How are you? Good to see you.”
Bethany Garrett-Taylor, Fellow Church Member: “She doesn't look like a grandmother at all. Yeah, she can run a marathon and my grandmother can't.”
(Ernestine greeting friends at church) “Certainly nice to see you. Nice to be here.”
Cynthia Winkler, Fellow Church Member: “I just think she went through a transformation, probably not long after the death of her sister who started out with her.”
Ernestine Shepherd: “When I was 56 years old, and I had a sister at that time who was 57, my sister and I went to purchase bathing suits. When we put them on, we weren't pleased with how we looked. So my sister said, ‘You know, we need to start exercising.’ She said, ‘We are going to motivate and inspire others the importance of living a healthy, happy lifestyle.’ She kept saying to me, ‘You know, if something were to happen to me, I want you to continue this exercise program.’ I have been so thrilled to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest female competitive bodybuilder. That has been a dream that my sister and I had. I've made the second dream. I'm in Ripley's Believe It or Not also. Do you know, when my sister died, everything went down. I suffered panic attacks, depression. But I had to get myself together. I knew I couldn't live like that. I had to say to myself, ‘Restore to me the joy of my salvation.’ And that happened. I got my faith back.”
Cynthia Winkler: “She's just been somebody to really emulate for me and my life because she didn't start until she was in her fifties. And so when I got to my fifties, I said, ‘Ooh, if Ms. Ernestine can do this maybe this is something I can do!’”
Ernestine Shepherd: “That is my ministry, to motivate and inspire others about the importance of living a fit and healthy lifestyle.”
You can reach Ernestine Shepherd through Union Memorial United Methodist Church at 410- 945-2723.