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Meet Ernestine Shepherd: 72 year old Mum, Grandma, Personal Trainer, Body Builder, Competitor and more…

Senior women flex their muscles during Shepherd’s aerobics class at Union Memorial United Methodist Church in Baltimore.

At age 72, Ernestine Shepherd is training for a women’s bodybuilding competition. It will be her third.

“Very proud of her,” says her trainer, Raymond Day. “Who wouldn’t be?”

Shepherd, who picked up her first dumbbell at age 56, was initially hesitant to strap on a bathing suit and compete alongside women half her age. But insecurities vanished after her first competition when she received a medal – for first place.

“No one was my age. They were between 35 and 45,” she says, with a smile. “I was so proud to be up there on that stage.”

A retired grandmother who worked 30 years for a telephone company, Shepherd runs upward of 80 miles and hits the gym at least four times each week.

In the process, she has become an inspiration to other senior women, who flock to her aerobics classes at Union Memorial United Methodist Church.

“Sometimes I wonder how she does it,” says Ida Massey, who attends the church class. “Her ministry is to encourage people. She encourages people to do as much as they can.”

“You look at yourself and think, ‘How does she do that?” says Ernestine’s pastor, the Rev. Esther Holimon, who attends the class. “And how can I look like that?”

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