Every single morning Ernestine Shepherd wakes up at 2.30am, embarks upon a 10-mile walk and then heads to the gym at 7.30am where she continues to work out and lead exercise classes until 11.30am. Ernestine is 86 years old.
The Baltimore native was crowned the world’s oldest competitive female bodybuilder in 2011 by the Guinness book of world records. She has washboard abs, impressive biceps and lives on three to four hours sleep ever night.
“I just didn’t know it was possible for a woman over 60 to have a six pack and at 80”. -Said Shepherd
Ironically, Shepherd was dubbed “6-pack Granny” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not and in 2010 at the age of 71, she was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest competitive bodybuilder in the world.
Her celebrity has landed her in everything from a cameo appearance in Beyonce’s “Black Is King” and an original documentary short from Prevention to a guest spot on CNN with Anderson Cooper.
But the woman who starts every day off with prayer and lives by a “three -D” mantra of “determined, dedicated, disciplined to be fit” (also the title of her book), believes that she is better defined by her journey than her six-pack.
She freely shares it during a robust schedule of speaking engagements and public appearances across the nation where she inspires women that at almost any age, they too, can be fit—and fabulous.
Spurred into fitness with her sister Velvet at the age of 56, she previously had never done any exercise having been exempt from school physical education lessons as a child because of an injury she sustained in a car accident.
The Independent spoke to a snowed-in Ernie on the east coast of the US on the phone which finally connected after the theme tune from Rocky blared down the line for a minute or so.
“When you call my phone, you hear Sylvester Stallone’s music because I was inspired by his movie… and how he had to get his life back together and how he drank the egg whites and I drink egg whites now because of Rocky,” she explains.