Health and Fitness with Bill Walker

Lifting and Leading The Way with Black Girls Lift and Ernestine Shepherd


Welcome to another exciting episode of one of the greatest fitness publications in the cosmos.

Being that this is March, and it is Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight some amazing adventures in fitness.

Do you remember when I interviewed Candace White of Black Girls Lift? Yes, that amazing interview, last summer.  No, it didn’t get a Pulitzer, yet.  Maybe it’s in the mail.  If you haven’t read it, then click here…. RIGHT HERE  .  Well, this year we’ve already had TWO powerful events, and we’re just getting started.

Have you ever heard of Ernestine Shepherd?

No? Well, you’re in luck.

Ernestine Shepherd is

  •  One of the flyest women who ever lived.
  •  Hold the Guiness World Record of oldest female bodybuilder
  •  An inspiration to women all over the world
  •  Is 81 years old
  • Autographed her book to my mom.  –Hey Mom! ***Waves***.
  • Had an event with us in January.

Did you miss it?  Well, fear not fellow readers, Ernestine will be back with us in the Spring.  Sunday April 15th at Xsport Fitness.  Click here for the link.

Now what was it like meeting and seeing Ernestine Shepherd?

It was January 14th.

There was a dastardly chill in the air.

The wind was ferocious as it attacked our sigil.

A large Black Girls lift flag outside the glass door downtown.  The wind was met with anticipation as we ran our preparations for today’s event.  Our staff was cold but ready.  I stood outside a large door, in front of a sidewalk bridge eyeing down chariots, and travelers afoot.  Like all seeing Heimdall (Heimdall is a Norse god in both Norse mythology and Marvel comics), I stood outside my post, opening the gate for worthy travelers showing me their passes. Some faces I knew and met them with great internal anticipation, despite the trolling attempts of old man winter who though try as he might through his command of the elements, would not stop our march to greatness this day.  Inside the building was our staff, eagerly greeting our guests along with our allies, “202 strong.”  A gym garrison that hosted two locations down by Farragut West in Downtown D.C. and also Rockville, MD.  Two campaigns took place today, the first from 10-12, and then the second from 2-4.  The first campaign had an attendance of up to or over 50 women warriors.  The second, close to or over one hundred.  Yes friends, today would be a mighty day indeed. We were going to make history.

As the event begins, one of our crew, Rochelle emcee’d the crowd before Ernestine steps up.  Ernestine takes the stage.  Let me tell you something, Ernestine is 81 years old, but you couldn’t tell.  Ernestine was like Okoye ( eneral Okoye of  the Dora Milaje from Black Panther. If you didn’t see it yet, shame on you. Really? Well go see it), Storm (do I really have to tell you who Storm is?  I’m not.) combined with mannerism of a sweet saintly grandmother.  Her raiment was a fly outfit with heels.   Yes, Ernestine had on heels and was still fluid and graceful while exercising.


She told us her heartfelt story of how her and her sister Velvet decide to turn over a new leaf and exercise after bathing suit shopping. A dream cut short as tragedy befell her beloved sister Velvet.  However in the wake of tragedy, Velvet inspires Ernestine to continue the mission and Ernestine picks up the mantle after much distress and carries on the fight.  Ernestine not only changers her own life but the lives of others.  She has compete in a bodybuilding show and has traveled the world and told her tale.  You can hear her speak on it in this video.

After the story, Ernestine takes the class into a body weight workout and regales the class with her demeanor and energy while still exuding grace and poise. It was amazing to see how Ernestine led those women.  At 81 years old , Ernestine doesn’t miss a beat and afterwards said some closing words and signed autographs and took pictures.  I would tell you more but I guess you had to be there right? Don’t worry you can come to the next one.

Her booking agent and trainer Yohnnie Shambourger


Above right there is one of my long time gym homies Laneen. I’ve known Laneen since I first started working out in 2010. Her whole family gets it in.  Husband, herself and two sons. They’re all dope.

Here is what our own staff had to say about the event

Ernestine Shepherd attended the first Black Girls Lift event in 2018 and by far exceeded every one of my expectations. She shared her inspiring story, provided some tips to the group about leading a healthy lifestyle, and then lead the group through an intense full-body work-out. The best part was that she wore an eye-turning one-piece jumpsuit and heels! The event was such a success that we will be bringing her back for another event in April 2018. – Candace White. Founder


Meeting Ernestine Sheppard for the first time was amazing ! I was honored to be in her presence, and to ask a few questions about what motivates her. She touched on the reasons why eating healthy is so important and how excited she was for me and my companies growth. She is so positive and so driven. An amazing person ! So humble in the process. She has motivated and helped so many people around the world simply be sharing her journey with others and I look forward to buying her book “The Ageless Journey “ Of Ernestine Sheppard.  – Daniel J. Burroughs  Executive Chef, Finishing Touches Culinary


***Big shout out to these two brothers here.  They represent Finishing Touches Culinary.  They catered our event.  Great food too. Spoiler: I had steak.


Yesterday’s kickoff was empowering and impactful for the women who attended the Black Girls Lift event with Ernestine Shepherd. I saw so many happy faces in the crowd and I got a sense that lives will be transformed in regards to women making health their top priority. Ernestine shared inspiring words, led an amazing workout and confirmed that if you are committed, you are never to old to change your life and get healthy and strong.  I was super excited to see Candace’s vision for this organization and the event come to fruition. I am proud to be a part of Black Girls Lift and I look forward to helping Candace make this a Movement to help women and their families live longer, happier and healthier lives through the strength they gain spiritually, physically and emotionally from this network. – Heather

The BGL event was more inspiring than I could have ever envisioned. The best moment was listening to one attendee’s struggle with epilepsy and seizures that almost prevent her from getting s college education. She shared with Ernestine and the group that Ernestine had inspired her start lifting weights. After regular weight lifting and taking better care of her health her seizures have stopped! It never ceases to amaze me what movement can do for the body!! I’m so grateful to be part of this org – Sharita (Personal Trainer) @getfitlikethat (instagram)


Below a young woman speaks to Ernestine.  It was great seeing how she inspires many.

Our dope staff, Rochelle, Heather, and one of our other trainers Marita @fighttobefitdc on IG

Fit, February and Ferocious

It didn’t stop there.  In February we had an event at Atlas Fitness with the training sessoion led by Sharita @getfitlikethat  After a brief discussion, we get down to business.  Here Sharita is giving a dope dissertation on strength!

Sharita did an excellent job.  The workout consisted of Squats, (assisted by yours truly…because DEPTH!!!!!!!) Don’t worry, if you’ve never squatted deep before we didn’t throw you in the ocean with no life jacket.  We armed you with powerful techniques and exercises to assist you in that mighty leap of faith. The workout also consisted of hip thrusters, medicine ball slams, inverted rows and an amazing array of awesomeness to arm the women in their quest for strength and excellence.


Note from myself

I personally would like to say I’m extremely proud of this organization being at the forefront of fitness for black women – and yes, if you were wondering –  all women race of women are encouraged to join these exciting events. As a black man, it’s a very dope feeling in today’s climate to know you are helping black women get stronger, change or transform their lives or just guide them a little bit in the area of fitness. If you’ve seen the Black Panther movie, (and you better have) you saw the Dora Milaje.  You now see what I’ve seen in you and that is the spirit of a warrior goddess.  Strength, Confidence, beauty transcending all obstacles in glorious splendor.  There is a great power within you ladies.  However that power only comes if you seek it.  Not only must you seek it, you must fight for it constantly.  Don’t be afraid of lifting, of the weight room (the weight room was built for you). Don’t fall for the various stereotypes that comes with women lifting weights. Don’t worry about being a beginner. If your trainer is for real, her or she will show you the way.  You’ll not just look good but you’ll learn a valuable skill for life.  Lifting only brings out the goddess that is in you. Exercise is the body’s way of striving towards greatness. You all are part of the equation will brings life into the world. Should not that other half of the equation represent the very greatest of excellence one can achieve?  When Ernestine showed up, I saw a spark in the eyes of many.  I saw women push themselves.  I saw women tell Ernestine how much she meant to them. When I see our ladies lead these work outs, it’s an honor to help out.  Do take advantage of all that Black Girls Lift has to offer.


Did you miss our event with Ernestine Shepard?  Don’t worry, April 15th is around corner.  You can register at the links below.  Interested in our monthly events.  You can register with the black girls lift main site and join us each fourth Sunday of the month.  Hope to see you with Ernestine and I hope you visit our other events.


Ernestine’s website

Ernestine Shepherd April 15th event with Black Girl’s Lift

Black Girls lift Events for March, April, May and, June

Photo Credit to Derek White Photography.



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