April 21, 2024
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Powerlifting Prodigies from Fair Lawn – The Kutins

Naomi and Ari Kutin, aged 11 and 10 respectively, are two-well rounded and well-mannered children from Fair Lawn. They are diligent workers, and both of them are “A” students in honor tracks. However, this brother-sister tandem is distinctively unique. Naomi and Ari are already accomplished athletes, but not in the typical, popular yeshiva sports that I played while growing up, such as floor hockey and basketball. Indeed, there is nothing pedestrian about the siblings Kutin. They are record holders in a sport that is alien and obscure to most Orthodox kids from Bergen County, namely, powerlifting.

I was curious to learn as to how two children from this community even became involved in such a sport, in which competitors perform three main lifts (squat, bench press and dead lift) while trying to uphold the greatest amount of weight possible. I spoke to the mother of the Kutin children, who told me that there were numerous factors that led to the adoption of this sport their children. Neshama Kutin’s husband, Ed, has been a powerlifter for 33 years, so her children have been familiar with the sport from a young age. Yet, Naomi and Ari, who are the youngest of five children, have been the only Kutin kin to become actively involved in powerlifting as of yet. Their own decision to undertake this endeavor speaks volumes for who they are as individuals.

About five years ago, in what was eventually a successful attempt to lose weight, Mrs. Kutin embarked upon a strict program of diet and exercise. Her whole family followed suit. During this period of rebirth and wellbeing in their household, the Kutins decided to enroll Naomi in karate lessons, and at times they were present to watch these classes. They soon realized that Naomi had clearly been blessed with inherent physical strength, as she stood out from the rest of her class. She was able to perform full body, “adult” pushups and wheelbarrow exercises, while the rest of the class struggled to do so (as most children would). Naomi and her parents decided to harness this strength and utilize it in the sport of powerlifting. Ari followed his older sister’s example and became engaged in this sport as well.

Naomi and Ari have proven to be powerlifting naturals. Since first entering powerlifting at the age of 8, Naomi has set both youth and adult records, beginning with her first competition. At the age of 9, she set an all-time record for squat in the women’s 97 lb. weight class. An adult lifter took this record from her a few months later, but Naomi recovered it a couple of months later at the age of 10. Naomi then retained the squat record for one year and three months. Amazingly, in a pitched battle for this record, Naomi has recently regained this (or “her”) record at age 11. The powerlifting phenom has also set records in bench-pressing and total, which is the aggregate score of all three lifts.

Younger brother Ari has also carved out a name for himself in the powerlifting realm. Recently, he set a youth world record in squat, and has successfully lifted high volumes of weight in all three powerlifts. Due to his upstart success, he has caught the eye of the powerlifting circuit.

The two members of this powerlifting dynamic duo are also characterized by their strength of personal caliber. Naomi and Ari have personalities that belie the sport of powerlifting’s macho culture. Naomi is described by her mother as being somewhat introverted and sensitive, and Ari, though genial and outgoing, is not aggressive or brazen. Powerlifting has served as a confidence-building enterprise for both of them. In addition, Naomi is now old enough to volunteer with a wonderful Lubavitch benevolent group called The Friendship Circle. Ari has received support from this group, and seeing what this organization has done for her younger brother, Naomi has eagerly joined the organization as a volunteer.

Naomi and Ari have a growing following online through social media and YouTube. I highly recommend that our readers visit Naomi’s Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/SupergirlNaomi), which already has hundreds of followers. Also, viewing the Kutin’s YouTube powerlifting videos is requisite to truly grasp the grit and determination of these young champions.

By Elly Merlis

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