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American Ninja Liba Yoffe

Mighty 4’11” Liba Yoffe will compete against the toughest on the American reality show, but her Orthodox lifestyle is respected – no shows on Shabbat and she’s competing in a skirt.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The popular reality TV series American Ninja Warriors has had many inspiring participants since premiering in 2009, but its newest inspiration is a modern Orthodox Jewish mother of four who doesn’t shy away from obstacles, but powers her way through them.

Liba Yoffe, 35, from Phoenix, grew up in the Five Towns area of New York where despite being competitive and loving weight lifting, she recently told Hadassah Magazine that she gave it up as a teenager because “as a frum girl, it wasn’t cool to be strong.”

“A few years ago, I realized I shouldn’t be held back by that and started really lifting,” Yoffe said. “It was the most freeing feeling, and I realized how strong I was and how it helps emotionally and mentally when you feel physically strong. Strong is a word we as women should be admiring.”

She’s now married with four kids in Phoenix, and she’s not just lifting weights again, she is a personal trainer, birth coach and certified childbirth educator with her own wellness company together with three other modern Orthodox women that promotes healthy lifestyles through eating mindfully and strength building through customized fitness programs, helping her clients focus on personal growth.

“Mindset coaching is also a big part of what we do,” Yoffe told Hadassah Magazine. “You can’t have lasting change without digging deep into shifting your habits and personal triggers. This is not a diet or a one-size-fits-all program. We start on the inside because that’s where true transformation begins.”

From her love of weight training she decided to try competitive powerlifting, but hit a roadblock when the elite competition she entered insisted she wear a skimpy outfit for the contest and have her hair uncovered – unacceptable conditions to a religious competitor.

She refused to compromise on the modest athletic clothes she now competes in.

Down but never out, Yoffe saw an opportunity on the American Ninja Warriors show, which pits competitors against each other on a crazy obstacle course that defies the abilities of most, but gives a competitive rush to those with the drive and ability of a “ninja warrior.”

She trained at a local gym with the goal of making the TV show, explaining that she has “an extreme inner drive to compete and be really good at something.”

“I believe that I can be that one that can show women and girls of the world that it is possible to maintain your faith and compete in athletics and thrive and be a strong, powerful woman inside and out,” Yoffe said in the promotional video she made of herself, which you can click on below this article.

Yoffe is impressive – so much so that the producers of American Ninja Warriors loved what they saw and invited her to try out.

The show looks for participants who have an unusual story, and she thinks being an Orthodox Jewish woman helped get her to be one of the hundreds of athletes invited to the recorded competition, where the second you fall from the obstacle course, you’re out.

This year’s season of American Ninja Warriors will have 16 episodes and it’s not a sure thing yet that Yoffe will appear in one of them, as barely a third of the competitors get to see themselves on TV once the show is edited and set.

Her unique story gives her a good chance of getting on air.

Whether or not we see her on the screen, she is definitely a winner who inspires others to excel!


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