Woman doesn’t let age be a barrier to good health



March 30, 2018 - 11:00 PM

Body builder Ernestine Shepherd, 81, flexes for the crowd last Saturday during a community health fair in Aurora, Ill. David Sharos/The Beacon-News/TNS

AURORA, Ill. — Ernestine Shepherd, 81, came to Aurora recently to say that exercise should be a key part of everyone’s day, including senior citizens.

Shepherd hasn’t let age stop her from being a bodybuilder, she said to a crowd of at least 100 at the African-American Health Coalition’s 13th annual Community Health Fair at Aurora Christian School.

Shepherd said she did not embrace serious training until about a decade ago but that she had begun working out in her mid-50s after she and her sister were invited to a church picnic “and didn’t like the way we looked in our bathing suits.”

“This exercising and training started as a result of vanity,” Shepherd admitted. “My sister Velvet was 57 at the time, and I was 56. I lost her not long after to a brain aneurysm, and I vowed to keep the promise I made over 25 years ago to continue this journey as long as I have the strength.”

Shepherd unveiled a shirt before the crowd with a message that she said epitomizes everything she does.

“I have the words, ‘Determined, Dedicated, and Discipline to be fit’ and that encompasses everything I do,” Shepherd said. “I feel if you use your mind and follow the three Ds, you can’t fail.”

Shepherd told the crowd she has been married for 61 years to her husband who is now 87 and that she has a 60-year-old son and a 20-year-old grandson.

“He’s very proud of everything I do, and my doing this has motivated him to be active and not wait until the last minute,” she said. “There are days when I have aches and pains, but I still run 10 miles a day and was doing marathons five years ago.”