She was a shy kid, always trying not to be in the spotlight. Even after she joined the Air Force, most of her co-workers would describe her as reserved. It wasn’t until she watched a video of other service members performing in a body building competition that Tech. Sgt. Heather Baldwin saw her calling.
“Every time I saw that competition video, I told myself I wanted to be and look as fit as them,” said Baldwin, 786th Force Support Squadron NCOIC fitness assessment cell. “I was inspired by their training and transformations and decided to start training too.”
Growing up, Baldwin said she would’ve never pictured herself center stage in front of a crowd. Even after 12 years of active military service, the thought of a body building competition never crossed her mind.
“Anyone who knows me would say I am shy and reserved, so for me to step on stage and even compete is something that is way left field for me,” Baldwin said. “I’m trying to step outside of my box and out of my comfort zone.”
Shortly after her decision to become a body builder, she deployed. Determined to be ready for her first competition, Baldwin did what most deployed members do — she hit the gym hard.
“I decided that entering the competition would be a good way to challenge myself and improve my fitness level,” she said.
In her first competition, she placed first in the Figure Tall portion of the K-Town Body-building, Figure, Bikini and Fitness Invitational 2013.
“I learned so much about training and dieting during my competition preparation. I like to share the tips to hopefully inspire others to make improvements to their fitness level,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin describes backstage of a competition as organized chaos, with competitors getting their hair and make-up right and getting pumped-up to entertain the crowd.
“Competitions are nerve racking, especially for me. Even after the show I go back into my little shell,” she said. “But as a lot of athletes say, we work hard for these bodies, so show it off, and that’s what I’m doing.”
She also said she appreciates the community of body builders she competes with, even though when they step on stage there is a possibility they will be compared to one another.
“We take the time to help each other out to be where we need to be before we step on stage. I love the camaraderie of the other competitors and the friendship we build with each other,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin doesn’t only inspire those in the body building community, she also has a lasting impression on those she supervises in the Air Force.
“Sergeant Baldwin comes in early and works late. She is always in the gym and is role model and inspiration for the people in our office,” said Senior Airman Ryan Patriok, 786th Force Support Squadron fitness assessment cell. “I have had the pleasure of working out with her on some occasions, and she is a beast in the gym.”
Baldwin’s drive for fitness has not only been noticed by her troops but her leadership as well. Her supervisor, Master Sgt. Derek Kelly, 786th Force Support Squadron NCOIC south side fitness center, said he believes her drive and discipline to transform into a fitness icon is a great representation of the Air Force and the core values in which they stand for.
“I feel that Heather exemplifies the Air Force standard for physical fitness,” Kelly said. “Most people train to just meet the minimum requirements but Heather has achieved a level of fitness that is being recognized nationally and idolized by spectators.”
For Baldwin, body building isn’t just for a competition. She admits that she is hooked on the sport and plans to continue pushing herself and watching her body transform.
“I am going to go as far as I can with my body building,” Baldwin said. “If at any point I should have to stop competing, I will use what I learned to keep fitness a way of life.”