By Zack Huffman
The biggest misconception professional fitness athlete Victoria Larvie faces is people thinking she is a bodybuilder. The 17-year-old Riverdale resident may have just become the youngest female to ever earn professional status with the International Federation of Body Builders but that does not mean she is anywhere near a female version of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"People ask me to flex all the time, and I'm like no, I'm not a bodybuilder" she said. Larvie refers to herself as a fitness athlete. While the term may seem ambiguous, the IFBB is specific in that it expects strength, flexibility, elegance and grace out of its fitness competitors.
As opposed to the intensive development of muscle mass that bodybuilding requires, fitness athletes must be able to maintain a toned physique while being able to perform a two-minute routine that includes five strength moves.
According to Larvie, her routines contain one-armed pushups, splits and presses among other moves.
Larvie began her athletic career as a gymnast when she was just three years old.
She worked her way up to the status of a level-10 gymnast, which is one level away from the elite-level gymnasts that compete in the Olympics.
Before she could attain that feat, her gymnastics career was derailed about three years ago.
Having her long-time coach quit on her was tough enough, but the final blow to her career was the damage she had incurred on her hip, resulting in a complete loss of cartilage between her hip and one of her femurs.
The damage required two surgeries to repair.
"When my coach quit it was very difficult for me to cope with. I was hoping to go to the Olympics," she said, before explaining that her injury helped her realize that life did not end with her gymnastics career.
"I knew God had a different direction for me," she added.
Although she did not realize it at the time, she found that new direction a few years earlier.
At the encouragement of family friend and eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, Larvie competed in her first fitness competition when she was 12.
Since then, she has accrued a large resume of wins, most recently she took first place in the NPC Junior USA, Southern Classic and Junior National Championships, with the most recent overall win June 20, qualifying her for Pro status.
"I love what I do," said Larvie. "I stay healthy. It keeps me out of trouble and it's a great accomplishment."
In preparation for big competitions, she must commit to a daily workout regimen, but the toughest aspect of her training involves what she can eat.
"The dieting is awful," she said. "All I ate for six weeks is fish and asparagus.
It gets old after awhile and you get very cranky, but it works."
Although she is currently taking some time off from the rigors of training she will soon dive back in so she can prepare for her first competition as a pro, which will be in the Ft. Lauderdale Cup, Oct. 10.
Going pro means, she will be eligible to earn money for top finishes in championships as well as make it easier for her to make money through endorsement deals.
"It's very possible to make a lot of money," said her father Skip Larvie."