“My grandma could bench more than that”: a common phrase heard muttered by muscle-bound, invisible barrel-carrying clichés. The taunt is nothing more than a self-defence mechanism used to take the piss out of the awkward gym-goer cursed with a wiry, Monty Burns-like physique, who struggles to negotiate 2kg weights at the local fitness haunt.
Normally the jibe is used with a generous lathering of sarcasm. That is unless you happen to be the grandson of Mrs Ernestine Shepherd, who this week was named as a featured record holder for the forthcoming 2012 Guinness Book of World Records.
The 74-year-old grandmother, bodybuilder, model – yes, model – and soon to be published fitness author can easily bench her own weight. She also regularly competes in muscle exhibition shows with women half her age. Not many readers would be familiar with the 1980’s children television series “Super Gran”. This is unquestionably a good thing, given all 27 episodes were abhorrent bullshit – even the ones staring Spike Milligan and Garry Glitter. [Editor’s note: For the record, Gudrun Ure played the lead.] But I’d imagine those viewers familiar with the show’s premise would like to see its main protagonist take on the newly crowned Super Gran, UFC style, taunting the veteran bodybuilder with: “insert violent, threatening ghetto language here”.
Shepherd told the crowd she felt “healthier and fitter than I was at 50”. “There’s no reason you can’t be 80 and still strutting your stuff.” Her 80 year old husband Colin seemed to share her youthful edge; his rendition of the late Nate Dogg’s “I Need a Bitch” kept ThePublicApology crew entertained in the foyer:
“I need me a bitch, with some big old thighs, I need me a fine ass mothafuckin’ bitch with some pretty ass eyes”
Coincidently, this writer has just discovered, to his shock, that he is directly related to Australia’s most successful female bodybuilder, and arguably the most successful Aussie bodybuilder of all time, Bev Francis. Bev is a legend in the sport, not only within Australia, but worldwide. ThePublicApology has an interview with Bev arranged for later this month, and with any luck the Geelong-born mother of two will give us a rare insight into the anabolic-androgenic-androgynous freakish circus act that has been her life. Let’s hope she’s not a reader.
Intimidated, inadequate, scared – maybe even a little sexually excited – research for this article has left me more confused about my masculinity than ever. I’m hoping there’s a bloke at the gym tomorrow built like one of the Thunderbird Marionettes, I’ll be the guy carrying invisible melons.
By Luke Meredith