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Many bodybuilding fans know David Henry as the 2008 Olympia 202 champion who also served in the Air Force. His fellow airmen and superiors stood alongside him in action every day serving his country, and they were aware that he was jacked like an O winner. It takes someone who is very familiar with the commitments that come with both endeavors to really appreciate how impressive Henry’s achievements truly are; both in service and on the stage.
“I was the only one for about 10 years doing what I did at my level, period,” Henry emphasized. “This wasn’t the same as those who served on weekends, as respectable as that is. I was up every morning at 4:30 in the morning to be at a 6 a.m. meeting, and then work until 4 in the afternoon, go the gym, juggle all of that with a family, and try to do a full bodybuilding career. It just isn’t on the same level.”
What the fans saw were images of David Henry in uniform along with videos of him training and competing on the biggest stage in the IFBB Pro League. If one were to take a deep dive into his everyday activities, it isn’t nearly as glamorous as he would make his trademark poses look.
“I did my job at or above expectations. When I went to compete, I didn’t leave anything for someone else to do. They didn’t have any reason to call me. They had no reason to think that I was leaving anything behind that was unfinished,” he said. He also made extra compromises during work to stay on track during prep or the offseason.
“I always had my meals with me. I would have a Tupperware container inside of my jacket, and I would pull it out and eat. If I was driving a truck that day, I’d have a chicken breast in one hand and the steering wheel in the other expediting my people. That was just how it worked. And this was all before sunshades were available. So, I was doing all of this in 100-degree heat sometimes.”
Sometimes Henry’s commitment to bodybuilding would be concerning to some of his Air Force supervisors. Thanks to supportive staff members and a record of finishing what he started, the people who he worked under came around.
“I’m going to say that my command staff was fantastic along my journey. My supervisors tried to get in the way, but when they saw what I was doing and the effort that I was putting forth at work, they shut down,” Henry explained.
While serving his country, Henry would reach a rank of master sergeant before retiring in August of 2014. He credits this position as his greatest achievement in his career.
“I wanted to rank ahead of my time in service before I retired. My whole thing was getting to master sergeant well before it was time to retire,” Henry said. “I did it, man. I hit all ranks first time out, master sergeant took me some time to make, but I made it at my 16-year mark. That was a big personal achievement for me.”
Another cornerstone of Henry’s life that helped him succeed in both careers was his family. Having loved ones who were behind him meant a great deal to him every day.
“They were 100% supportive. The military took me away from them anyway. Bodybuilding didn’t do too much when it comes to taking me away from them,” he said. “I actually competed two or three times a year, but people always made it out like I was gone much more than that. When it came to David Henry the bodybuilder, I was the one eating the food and training. My wife (Nicki Henry) and I met in the industry, so she understood the path I was taking. She had my meals ready for me after my eight-to-ten-hour shifts, which is more than I can say for many people.”
As a veteran, David Henry is thanked for his service by people he knows as well as those that see him for the first time. This likely happens with more frequency around Veterans Day. He would like to see people learn more about the significance of the day and the importance it has to those that have honorably fulfilled their commitment to the nation.
“For most people, it’s one of those misconstrued things because it isn’t a holiday. It’s a day to honor those foreign and domestic that have served. People sometimes mistake it for Memorial Day, which can sometimes be frustrating. I get it, people are trying to pay their respects and be genuine, but they should take this day to celebrate those who are still here,” Henry said. “By definition, it’s to honor those that have completed military service and were honorably discharged, which only three percent of the US population will ever do. Not those that were dishonorably discharged, either.”
As for the bodybuilding side of Henry’s life, he is working as a coach and is currently preparing to compete in the Toronto Pro this coming December. He is now retired from service, but it will still be a while before he calls it a bodybuilding career.