Ivy Larson, Health & Fitness Pro, Turned to Hooping for Fitness When She Couldn't Walk!

  Ivy Larson, mother, health and fitness pro, author and visionary behind Clean Cuisine and More, turned to hooping at a time in her life when she needed it most: when recovering from a painful hip surgery that prevented her from even walking! Read Ivy's incredible story...   Name: Ivy Larson Hooping hometown: North Palm Beach, FL How long have you been hooping? 5 years   Who introduced you to hooping? A realtor who was showing us our old house was in amazing shape and a good ten years older than me (I am 37 years old now) and it was obvious from looking at her that she exercised. At the time I was having awful hip problems (which I later learned were due to a congenital hip disorder) and having trouble doing my regular workouts because of the pain, so I asked her what she did for exercise. When she told me she HoopDanced I thought she was joking! Even though I was an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist and had been in the fitness industry since I graduated from college I had had never heard of HoopDancing. And, to be honest, I couldn’t fathom how it could actually be real exercise. But the Realtor was so enthusiastic about it and kept insisting we make a “hoop date” that I finally gave in figuring I had nothing to lose.   What was the biggest challenge for you getting started? At first, I couldn’t keep the hoop up! I was a dancer, gymnast and cheerleader in high school and I have always been very well coordinated but, for the life of me, I couldn’t keep the hoop up. It took me a good 45 minutes or so just to learn to keep it up. Once I “got it” I was hooked!   How has hooping changed your life? Because of my severe hip issue, which turned out to be something called Femoral Retroversion (causing premature joint deterioration and chronic hip pain) I needed to undergo a major hip/ leg surgery in 2011 called a “Femoral Derotational Osteotamy” in which my femur was broken in half up near my hip and the shaft was rotated to put my femoral head in the “normal” position. It was a 7 hour surgery done at the Hospital of Special Surgery in NYC and the surgeon put a rod in my leg and screws above my knee and in my hip to hold the rod in place. Not only was the surgery excruciatingly painful, I had a major complication where my bone did not heal and so I couldn’t walk for 7 months. But believe it or not, I was actually able to start hooping before I could walk! Hooping played a major role in my rehab because after the surgery the muscles around my hips were extremely tight and the slightest movement caused pain. Hooping played an integral role in helping me regain my hip mobility, strengthen my core, and eliminate low back pain. Plus, it has enabled me to get a great zero impact ---and fun!!---cardio workout.     How does your hoop practice fit into your daily life? I do a variety of different workouts but the main workout I do is a circuit-style workout with cardio intervals. Where some people might hop on a treadmill or stationary bike to do their cardio intervals, I hoop dance instead! It is much more fun plus I get the added benefit of working my core simultaneously. I also use the hoop as a fitness tool to do a wide variety of ballet, pilates and yoga-inspired toning movements. You can watch a video of the type of workouts I do using the hoop HERE.   What is your job title? I am the founder of CleanCuisine.com and the author of four nutrition / cookbooks, including my most recent, Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Program that Will Change the Way You Age, Look & Feel (Penguin, 2013). I wrote the books and run the website with my husband, Andy Larson, M.D., who serves as the medical director for our projects. We have a fifth book, a Clean Cuisine cookbook in partnership with Vitamix, scheduled for release in January 2014.   Tell us a little bit more about Clean Cuisine! Clean Cuisine is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle program that I developed with my husband. Our interest in nutrition started back in 1998 when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at just twenty-two years old. At the time my husband was in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and my neurologist was at the University of Miami. I was told that I could potentially slow the progression of my disease by changing my diet. My husband and I dived into all of the available research on nutrition and we both totally cleaned up our diets. We immediately eliminated processed foods from our diets but over the years we have evolved to a primarily plant-based diet. The way we eat is not only beneficial for people with MS, but it is helpful for anyone with an inflammatory condition and the number one “side benefit” is hunger free weight loss. Because exercise is an important component of reducing inflammation it has always been a part of my lifestyle and part of our books, including our most recent Clean Cuisine book (which incorporates hooping in the workout program). I even have a workout DVD, Full Fitness Fusion, that goes with the book! In January 2014 we will be launching a free online 8-week challenge based on our Clean Cuisine book that will also incorporate hooping.   When did you realize hooping was an activity that you would like to incorporate into the Clean Cuisine lifestyle? It was after my second hip surgery, the big one in 2011 that I realized that it really was an amazing workout that could benefit so many people who are limited with their workout programs due to orthopedic pain and back problems.   How does hooping as a practice align with some of the practices you discuss in your book? I am always looking for time-efficient ways to get fit and hooping really does two things at once; it gives you a great cardio workout and also targets your core muscles. The faster you spin the hoop the higher your heart rate climbs, but with zero impact on your joints! In addition, hooping targets the notoriously neglected transverse abdominal muscles, which improves spinal stability and posture, not to mention does a great job of flattening your stomach.   Have you noticed any physical changes/ changes in your level of physical fitness since you began hooping? Absolutely! I started to really take hooping seriously after the 2nd hip surgery as part of my rehab and just by hooping I was able to get into better shape from a cardiovascular standpoint than before the surgery. I know this because I can tell when I go up the stairs I never get winded! Before the surgery I was so limited with my exercise program that even though I wasn’t overweight I could tell my cardiovascular fitness had declined.   What would you tell someone who is interested in trying hooping but isn’t sure they can succeed? Everyone can learn to hoop! I have since taught numerous group exercise classes and even taught my 87 year old dad how to do it. It takes some people a little longer than others to get the hang of it (I was one of those people!), but if you just make up your mind that you are going to learn how to hoop you can absolutely do it. It’s like riding a bike---everyone can learn to ride a bike. Plus, did you know The American Council on Exercise conducted a study in order to determine the potential cardio and calorie-burning benefits of hooping and the results showed hooping is actually a more effective workout than most other group classes (including boot camp, advanced pilates, power yoga and step aerobics.) Knowing that it is such a great workout is motivating...well, I think so anyway!   Who would you recommend hooping to? Anyone! But especially those who have joint problems.   Quotable Ivy: "Hooping is my favorite way to get my heart rate up."   "Because of hooping I can still get a great cardio workout without putting any stress on my joints."

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