FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Naomi Kutin of Fair Lawn didn't understand the magnitude of what she had just done.
Fair Lawn’s strongest 82-pound 9-year-old had broken her first world record, squatting three times her body weight in the 2011 Anti Drugs Athletes United national competition.
It was not until hours later, though, that the accomplishment resonated to a degree while being tucked into bed by her mother, Neshama.
"Mommy," Naomi said from under the covers. "What's your world record in?"
It was all just the beginning for the Naomi Kutin, now a sophomore at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School in Teaneck.
She rarely struggles with the weights, but keeping track of all of her world records has proven difficult. Literally, she can't remember. But for Kutin, it’s never been about the numbers.
“I just like lifting weights — picking them up and putting them down,” said Kutin with a laugh quoting the renowned Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It’s a very good feeling but it’s not something that you can so easily explain.”
It’s just what Kutin has known.
The powerlifter, the fourth of five children, was 8 years old when she and her family first discovered her innate strength.
Kutin’s father, Ed, watched through the window of his daughter’s karate class as the rising athlete exploded through push-up after push-up with nearly perfect form.
It was no fluke. Kutin was petite but her strength was undeniably great, as she lifted 45-pound plates and barbells off the ground of her basement-turned-weight room with ease and vigor.
“People are very surprised when they find out,” said Kutin of her natural ability to squat, deadlift and bench upwards of 300 pounds. “I don’t even look like I have muscles.”
Critics were never something Kutin had to worry about. There were questions, sure. But the stigma that came with being a female powerlifter wasn't even a thought that crossed her mind.
Articles online about women fearing bulkiness from lifting weights and curiosity from her new high school peers seemed to enter Kutin's life around the same time.
But it was too late.
"By the time I realized people thought that way, I didn't care," Kutin said. "I do it because it's fun."
The all-around athlete joined the Ma’Ayanot track team and placed first in her only two events, the 100- and 200-meter sprints, earlier this week at her first meet.
Her father says running track is a “good accessory” to powerlifting, but Kutin knows weights will always be the main event.