With heavy metal pumping through her earbuds, Naomi Kutin never focuses on the fact that she is the youngest athlete in the room, but rather sets her sights on the task at hand — deadlifting 365 pounds.
Kutin’s journey into the world of powerlifting began in a karate class when she was 8 years old. Noticing his daughter’s unique strength and athletic ability, her father — a powerlifter himself — asked if she would like to try working out with him. After six months, and many hours of learning proper techniques, Kutin entered into her very first competition — and set her first American record.
“Nobody was really expecting me to do anything. There was no one near my age there, so most people didn’t even realize I was competing,” Kutin said. But the rest is history.
As an Orthodox powerlifter, Kutin is often the only Jew competing. “A lot of times I go to competitions where people have never met a Jew before in their entire life,” she said. “But I think it is really great that I often get to be the first Jew people have ever met and I get to represent Judaism.”
Representing Judaism on a national stage would be a sizeable undertaking for anyone, but Kutin is also a high school junior. Due to her dual curriculum at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School in Teaneck, N.J., she often doesn’t get home until after 6 p.m. and then goes straight into her workout regimen. And then she does her homework. “Sometimes in between my lifts, while I am working out, I am studying math,” she quipped.
When she does get some free time, Kutin enjoys giving back. “I like to volunteer as often as I can with special needs children,” she said. “It’s very important to me [to know] I can enhance a child’s life, just by spending quality time with them.”
In the future, Kutin said, “I always want to keep powerlifting part of my life.” For now, she is just focused on getting into college — maybe even one with a powerlifting team.
‘Supergirl’: At 16, Kutin has not only set multiple national and world records in powerlifting, but she is also the subject of the documentary “Supergirl,” which details her story.