Age is just a number, not a limitation

July 20, 2018

We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re only as young as you feel.” But for Stephanie Antonio, this quote has been more of a blueprint for success than a fancy play on words.

At age 51, she is in the best shape of her life, and she has spent the last 18 months competing against girls half her age as an NPC bikini competitor. During this time, she has won or placed well in several competitions. Despite her age, she continues to make major improvements.

Obviously, 51 years of age is not the ideal time to start competing in a new sport, but for Stephanie, following the traditional path in life has never been her style. She had her first child at age 18, then immediately got a job to help support her family, so she never had a chance to attend college or play collegiate sports. She always made fitness and working out an important part of her life. At age 49, she finally decided to take things to a different level to see what she could accomplish.

“I wanted to do one contest so I could cross it off my bucket list, but I ended up getting hooked and wanted to see how much I could improve and if I could compete on a national level,” she said.

Her first contest was in March 2017, when she competed in the Gladiator in Baltimore. At this competition she did well enough to qualify for Nationals, but she knew she still needed work if she was going to be competitive. “I needed to practice my stage presence and bring an all-around tighter package with leaner glutes and more muscular legs, which is what they are looking for,” said Stephanie. So she entered several more contests throughout the year and continued working on her weaknesses.

Stephanie has since competed in six shows, including the Delmarva Classic and Delaware State Championships, in which she won the open division and the overall, meaning she beat every bikini competitor in the show despite their age, height or experience level. Most recently, she competed at the national level in the Universe Championships in New Jersey. She placed seventh in a very competitive field of 12 women 50 years old and over.

When asked about her future goals, Stephanie said, “I’d like to compete in another national-level competition soon, and I would love to get my pro card this year. But if not, I would have to requalify for nationals in a regional competition and then try again next year.”

In other words, you must win a national show in order to become a pro bikini competitor. Then once you accomplish pro status, you only compete against other pro competitors since they are the best in the business. 

“That’s what makes it so fun; everybody has the same goal, which is to get their pro card, so everyone is bringing their A game to try to reach that elite level,” she said.

Stephanie has realized her goal later in life, but that makes the results all that much more gratifying and shows that there is no age limit to improve your health and physical appearance. So if you are looking to get in shape and you feel age is holding you back, remember it’s never too late to take control of your health and get the body of your dreams. 

There is no doubt getting older makes it more difficult to get in shape and lose weight, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. “I think age is just a number,” said Stephanie. “I have had the opportunity to compete on a national level, and it’s so inspiring to see all these super-fit master lifters 50 and over, both men and women, who look amazing for any age, and who keep going and refuse to let age be an issue.”

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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