Thanks to Kim Insley and the Kare11 Sunrise team for letting us share out love of log rolling on the morning news today! Check out the video here: http://www.kare11.com/news/education/minnetonka-students-start-log-rolling-club/413347488
Originally published January 26, 2017 at 8:50 am Updated January 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm
The University of Washington now offers classes in log rolling, a sport that began in the 19th-century Northwest and Midwest. It has experienced a recent surge in popularity thanks to the invention of synthetic logs. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
Boosters of the sport want the University of Washington to have an Olympic log-rolling team, eventually. Log rolling is also a good workout.
By Christine Clarridge Seattle Times staff reporter
It looked like it might be easy.
The brightly colored, large tube was floating so harmlessly, playfully almost, in the pool at the University of Washington’s Intramural Activities Building, that it practially begged people to step out and try it.
And that’s just what a group of fitness instructors and a UW aquatics director did over the weekend when the Key Logs — portable, synthetic “logs” created by a family of champion log rollers — were first slipped into the pool.
The UW bought four Key Logs as part of the recreation department’s efforts to get nontraditional athletes involved in physical activities, according to aquatics and safety manager Justin Berry.
The UW is joining about 400 other clubs, summer camps, universities, military training facilities and fitness centers in seven countries that have over the past few years either created a log-rolling team or are teaching the sport as a fitness activity.
UW students and faculty will have a chance to try log rolling at the intramural pool when classes are held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and 10. If there’s enough interest, said instructor Sarah Beron, the school will hold competitions and begin building a team.
Log rolling isn’t foreign to the UW. Photos show students in 1957 and 1964 participating in contests. The sport began during the great lumber drives of the late 1800s, when thousands of logs were felled and sent to mills downriver. But the logs jammed, and lumber companies took to hiring people to step on the logs and keep them moving.
In time, it became a competition to see who could outlast the others on the spinning logs.
According to Abby Hoeschler, a log-rolling champion and the president of Key Log Rolling, soon lumber companies and other entrepreneurs were sponsoring log rolling contests. Competitions these days take place between two people who are both on one log, trying to knock the other off without using their hands.
It was popular enough to have been featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and to draw crowds at events such as the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward. Wis., and the Loggerodeo in Sedro-Woolley.
However, the Hoeschlers realized the sport could never grow as long as it depended on the traditional lathed, wooden logs.
At 500 pounds each, they were not easily transported or stored.
Five years ago, Hoeschler’s Minnesota-based family company produced the first portable, synthetic Key Logs. When filled with water, the man-made logs, costing $2,150, have the buoyancy of the best log-rolling wood, the Western red cedar. And when empty, they weigh only 65 pounds.
In addition, the company added on three “trainers,” which slow the log’s spin and act like a training wheel.
Hoeschler and her family say they’d love to see log rolling become an Olympic sport.
“We have to get the numbers up and get more people log rolling in other countries,” Hoeschler said. “The potential is great once we can get the numbers. It’s really compelling to watch. It’s a sparring sport, like wrestling or boxing, without the violence. It makes great television and all you need is a 20 by 20 (foot) box of water, only 2 to 3 feet deep.”
The sport works the heart and lungs, is easy on the joints, promotes balance and is almost injury free, Hoeschler said.
It’s those health benefits that had the team from Anacortes at the pool.
“It’s good for balance, which is one of the things people need to work on as they age and it forces you to train in a safe way,” said personal trainer Meagan Zielinski.
Because it’s a relatively rare sport, it’s not easy to find opportunities for the casually curious — unless they live in Anacortes or go to the UW — to try out the logs. However, Hoeschler said she expects that to change in time.
Berry, the UW aquatics director, was able to stay on the log for about 15 seconds by the time his first lesson ended. He said success requires the kind of focus you need for surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, with the added requirement of constant motion.
There’s just something “almost universal” about wanting to see if you can balance on a log that’s floating in the water, said Berry. “You want to know, ‘Can I do this thing?’ ”
“It’s challenging,” said Zielinski, from Anacortes, “but also exciting and fun.”
Christine Clarridge: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983.
BLUE OX LOG ROLLING CLUBAt Key Log Rolling, we're confident that the technological advancement of the portable Key Log® will open up opportunities and allow people to dream bigger about what the sport could be including an Olympic sport.
Sarah Beron, a middle school math teacher from Minnesota, has just confirmed our belief by starting the first private log rolling school using Key Logs. Blue Ox Log Rolling, LLC is located in Victoria, Minnesota, near Minneapolis. Here's her inspirational story!
How did you get involved in log rolling?
Log rolling first piqued my interest in college when I met Mandy Erdmann, an elite level competitor from Wisconsin. I didn’t know that someone could actually be a world champion log roller. The fact that she looked nothing like the stereotype of a flannel-wearing, bearded, lumberjack-type made me think harder about the sport. I started planning my annual state fair visits around the log rolling demos held there. When my youngest daughter, Elsa, was just beginning to walk, she had amazing balance and we began to joke about her impending career as a log roller. Then, two years ago, we bought our dream home on a little lake and it was perfect for log rolling. I started researching logs and found the Key Log. Then a friend forwarded me the link to the Key Log Rolling family demo at the Blaisdell YMCA. I was so excited to finally try it but nervous that maybe I had overplayed how much I would love it. But I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It was everything I’d been dreaming it would be for years. It was fun and challenging, provided fitness and competition, both against myself and a friend.
What is it about log rolling that has captured your imagination?
Log rolling combines everything good and nothing bad. It’s like yoga meets kickboxing… on water! It’s new and different and a little bad ass. It’s fun and something that people want to do naturally, even my ten month old daugher! It’s great exercise, but with no injuries. I love that It rewards hard work quickly and is great MENTAL exercise (I really LOVE the mental focus of the sport). Finally, it's got great history! As a teacher, I love this. Kids can also learn about their Minnesota roots.
You started a log rolling club at a your middle school. How did that come about?
I teach math at Minnetonka Middle School West. My school students were expressing huge enthusiasm for my new hobby and convinced me to start a log rolling club for them. The school decided to also invest in this cool activity and the first middle school log rolling club was born! This spread to the Minnetonka Community Education department and adults joined us. This past school year, I taught 80 middle school students and adults to log roll. Those two hours were the highlight of my working life (I’ve been teaching for 11 years and needed something fun and new at work).
How did you decide to start your own log rolling business?
As summer approached, I wanted to continue offering log rolling classes outdoors but wasn't able to do it through the school. So I created an LLC, bought insurance and Blue Ox Log Rolling was born!
What is Blue Ox Log Rolling? A school, a club?
It’s both! A lot of my students have “outgrown” me in the sense that I don’t have any more knowledge about log rolling than they do. They just want a place to log roll over the summer so I will provide that. But I want to continue inviting new people into the sport and I love teaching so I will continue to provide classes and opportunities for new log rollers. And I think all levels of students benefit from log rolling at the same time in the same place.
How did you decide on the uniquely Minnesota name, Blue Ox? Why not Paul Bunyan?
My husband, Nolan, suggested “Loon Log Rolling” and my mom suggested “Blue Ox Log Rolling”. I loved them both and couldn’t decide so I put it on Facebook and the popular vote was overwhelmingly “Blue Ox Log Rolling”. I bought the domain and sent in the paperwork that night. A logo will be fun!
What are your hours of business and fees?
We just rolled out the summer class schedule and registration information. There are numerous options for people to start rolling!
What do your friends say about your new endeavor?
Everyone loves it and they are so excited! Even my husband gets asked about it at work and from his friends all the time. A friend told me, “I’m just so impressed that you just DID this. You didn’t ask anyone to hire you for this job. You made it happen.” I’m living out my dream and my passion for teaching and sports. I’m learning so much about creating a business, making a website, designing a logo, marketing, teaching adults, choosing insurance, and more. I can be purely passionate because there has never been something that I’ve been so sure about. Not once have I had any second thoughts about my log rolling endeavor. I don’t really know how to explain it except that there hasn’t seemed to be any downside at all. I’m leveraging where I live (on a perfect log rolling beach), I have the summers off and need something to focus on other than my children, I need to get back in shape, I love the idea of watching my kids practice their sport with their friends at home, I love introducing my friends and family to a new “game” at parties at our home, maybe I’ll make a little money eventually, I’m introducing people to something that will enrich their lives and I’m having tons of fun. Every single part of it has been fun so far. It’ll be fun to see where it goes.
Please share any anecdotes about your experience, thus far.
It was toward the end of the very first log rolling session at Minnetonka Middle School that I brought 4 or 5 boys to the Minneapolis Log Rolling Club’s tournament at the Eden Prairie Community Center. I knew it was going to be an all day event so I brought a huge stack of math tests to grade. But I couldn’t sit down. Not once! All day! It was so exciting to see my students compete. I was so proud and amazed at how well they were doing! I sat next to the parents on the bleachers that day in Eden Prairie while they cheered on their sons at this new sporting event. It was a powerful moment. It’s been exciting to see the joy log rolling is bringing to these families.
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016 3:45 am
By Unsie Zuege email@example.com
After nearly two weeks of watching 2016 Summer Olympics, it’s not so crazy to imagine log rolling becoming an Olympic sport.
After witnessing a recent class at Lake Auburn in Victoria, its allure is obvious. Anyone of any age can do it; and, apparently, it is addicting in a meditative zen, yoga, Candy Crush video game sort of way.
Since last winter, Minnetonka Middle School West math teacher Sarah Beron has been teaching log rolling, first to interested MMW students at the school pool, and this summer in her backyard that looks out over Lake Auburn.
Beron, a Victoria resident, first became interested in log rolling on her visits to the Minnesota State Fair, timing her visits to coincide with the log rolling events.
“I always loved watching the lumberjack show there,” Beron said. But it wasn’t until college at St. Olaf that she realized that log rolling is a sport for everyone. At St. Olaf, she got to know fellow student Mandy Erdmann, an elite log rolling competitor from Wisconsin.
“Until then,” she said, “I had the stereotype in my head of log rolling just for lumberjacks, men in flannel shirts with beards, not an actual sport that I could do.”
Still, Beron didn’t get into the sport until two years ago, when she and her husband found their dream house in Victoria. Encouraged by having a lake in her own backyard, she looked into buying a synthetic log that reacts like a traditional wood log. But she didn’t pursue it any further, that is, until she and her husband signed up for a lesson in Minneapolis. And then she was hooked.
Let’s start a club
“It was way better than I ever hoped,” Beron said. “It’s challenging, but you can experience success. I beat my husband three times that day.”
The following week, she told her classroom all about it. They were so enthused from her vivid description they said, “We want to do this, too! Let’s start a club and use the MMW pool.”
She pitched the idea to Paula Hoff, MMW principal, offering to bring her own log for the school to use. The principal did Buran one better. “I’ll buy a log for the school,” Hoff said. So the club started in the school pool with two synthetic logs in February. Each four-week class had a maximum of 15 students. Due to the popularity, she added another group, “and it just grew,” Beron said. Then parents wanted in, and siblings, and she had to add Saturday sessions.
And, it never occurred to her to start a business. Once summer started, her students started begging her to continue the log rolling classes. Beron thought it over. “Can I do it at my house?” she wondered. Her idea was squashed when she realized that her homeowner’s insurance wouldn’t cover the liability.
Then a friend suggested she create a business and get insurance that way.
“I never thought of starting a business,” Beron said. “I just did it out of necessity of getting insurance, and it just went from there.”
Beron named her business Blue Ox Log Rolling, a nod to Minnesota’s timber heritage, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. This summer, her 1-hour classes run Wednesday, Thursdays and Saturdays. Word of mouth has kept her classes full and her summer busy. Log rollers range in age from grade-schoolers to professional business owners, both men and women, and lately, businesses and companies have contacted her to teach log rolling as part of company and professional team-building exercises. On average, between 25 to 50 attend and have been taking her classes on a regular basis.
On a roll
On this particular August morning, most of the class — made up of nearly a dozen middle school aged girls — gathered in the shallow water on Lake Auburn. Some were from Beron’s MMW class from last school year. There was a lot of splashing and laughing as the log rollers took turns balancing atop the logs.
The synthetic logs are 15-inches in diameter, 12 feet long and weigh 65 pounds, more when filled with water and in a pool or body of water. The surface is textured, creating traction and enough grip for bare feet or aquatic shoes. Plastic yellow fins wrapped around the logs — called trainers — help stabilize the logs, making learning fast and easy. The fins slow the rotation; beginners start with three trainers on a log. As log rollers become more skilled, trainers are removed. The logs can be used in any body of water that is at least two feet in depth.
“I’ve been doing it most of the summer,” Emma Baden said, during a break. “I like it because it’s a mental sport as well as physical. You have a make sure you’re focused on the log. And it’s a core workout.”
Brianna LaMere of Excelsior likes log rolling for the fun of it, but also the workout she gets. “It doesn’t feel like you’re working too hard until later, when you’re sitting in the car and your legs suddenly feel so tired.”
“It’s satisfying,” said Grace Roemig of Excelsior. “Once you can stay up, you keep getting better.” Callie Creech of Minnetonka goes to Minnetonka High School. “It’s a really fun competitive sport. I do soccer and track. This has really been good for my balance and focus.”
Drew Peterson of Hopkins was one of the adults at Wednesday’s class.
“I love it,” Peterson said. “It’s a workout, which is good for someone who’s older and likes bagels too much. And, I have to say, it’s good for my tuckus.”
Share a bit about yourself… history. I grew up in Minnetonka, the only child of loving and busy parents who taught me to entertain myself and work hard. In high school I discovered a love of long distance running and nordic skiing. In college I discovered a love of philosophical arguments, math and travel. I moved to Germany after college to try teaching for a year and I fell in love with learning a language, teaching, and a dude from high school named Nolan. I returned home to start teaching and date Nolan. A couple years later, Nolan and I moved to Norway for a year where we got engaged. We got married in my parents back yard, had two amazing little girls, moved into my dream house on a lake and honestly, right now, I’m living my dream life. I'm thankful everyday to have the life I have.
My log rolling history: Log rolling first piqued my interest in college when I met Mandy Erdman. I simply didn’t know that someone could be a world champion log roller. Plus, she looked like me (I mean, not a flannel wearing, bearded, woods-living, lumberjack-type)! I was surprised and then intrigued. So, I started planning my annual state fair visits around the log rolling demos but it wasn’t until my younger daughter, Elsa, was just beginning to walk, that I began imagining log rolling as part of our lives. You see, she loved to step on anything and everything she could get her feet on. There would be clear path in front of her and she could go out of her way to walk on the books or remote control or shoes or whatever was on the floor. And she had amazing balance! As a 10 month old! We began to talk about her impending career as a log roller. Then, two years ago, we bought my dream home (oh it’s a humble one as far as dream homes go) on a little lake and it was perfect for log rolling. It’s a calm lake with little boat traffic, a sandy shallow beach area and I knew my girls were going to learn to log roll in my backyard. I started researching logs. Then about a year ago, a couple girlfriends and I were talking (over a few glasses of wine) about how unromantic it is that our husbands know everything about us now. There are no more surprises in our relationships. After brainstorming for solutions, we decided to take secret log rolling classes (we would tell our husbands we were at book club) and then suggest to our husbands that we “try” log rolling with them and of course, we would totally kick their asses! This never happened but a couple months later, one of these friends forwarded me the link to the open family log rolling at the Blaisdell YMCA. I was so excited!! It was months away but I could hardly wait!! (I remember Nolan saying, “This is it. We’re going! You’ve been talking about this long enough!”) The day arrived. I got really quiet and nervous on the way there because I started to think, “What if I hate it? What if I’m not good at it?” My biggest fear was that it was a sport in which you couldn’t improve and therefore I wouldn’t be interested. “What if it’s not what I think it is?” But, perhaps you recall, I loved it!! I fell in love with log rolling. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It was everything I’d been dreaming it would be for years. It was fun and challenging, provided fitness and competition. Plus, I beat Nolan. I was hooked. And Nolan supported it 100%. (side note: For years he had been “strongly encouraging” me to get a hobby outside of the home. Like many moms, it’s been difficult for me to take time away from the kids to do something that I enjoy. Nolan plays hockey, golf, bandy, goes to concerts and mountain bikes. I stayed home. It was not healthy. So he was thrilled that I was interested in something.) I log rolled with the Minneapolis Log Rolling Club for a few weeks but quickly realized that as much as I loved the women in the club (they are fantastic!), this was not a permanent solution for me. I couldn’t battle traffic for 2 hours and pay $14 each time I wanted to log roll. Meanwhile, my middle school students were expressing huge enthusiasm for my new found hobby. Perhaps they just wanted to chat instead of learn math, but they convinced me to start a log rolling club for them. MMW immediately agreed to purchase a log (Which was so weird! And awesome!). And the first middle school log rolling club was born. This spread to Minnetonka Community Ed and adults joined us. This school year, I taught 80 middle school students and adults to log roll. As summer approached, I learned the Minnetonka Community Ed would not provide insurance for log rolling off campus outside at a beach and that if I wanted to continue offering log rolling classes over the summer, I would need to provide my own insurance. After receiving advice from Abby and others, I created an LLC and bought insurance. Blue Ox Log Rolling was born!
What is it about log rolling that has captured your imagination?
Log rolling combines everything good and nothing bad. It’s like yoga meets kickboxing… on water!
What is Blue Ox Log Rolling? A school, a club?
Ha ha, good question. It’s both and I think that’s okay. A lot of my students have “outgrown” me in the sense that I don’t have any more knowledge about log rolling than they do. They just want a place to log roll over the summer so I will provide that. But I want to continue inviting new people into the sport and I love teaching so I will continue to provide classes and opportunities for new log rollers. And I think all levels of students benefit from log rolling at the same time in the same place.
How did you decide on the uniquely Minnesota name, Blue Ox? Why not Paul Bunyan!
For months I was trying to think of a name for my business and all I could come up with were “Minnetonka Log Rolling” or “Victoria Log Rolling” or “Auburn Log Rolling”. None of these were good because sometimes we log rolled in the pool in minnetonka and sometimes we were on lake auburn in victoria and who knows what the future would hold? Someday we might be in Chanhassen! (ha ha) I knew I wanted a name that reminded people of this region but wasn’t so specific.
So I got the family involved and Nolan suggested “Loon Log Rolling” and my mom suggested “Blue Ox Log Rolling”. I loved them both and couldn’t decide so I put it on facebook and the popular vote was overwhelmingly Blue Ox Log Rolling. I bought the domain and sent in the paperwork that night. A logo will be fun.
Any details on the program… hours of business or cost?
Yes, thank you for asking. We just rolled out the summer class schedule and registration information.
June 12 - Aug 30
4 options for registration:
1 day/week for 1 month $40 (pick June (half price), July, August)
Unlimited for 1 month $70 (pick June (half price), July, August)
1 day/week all summer $100 (pick saturdays, wednesdays or thursdays)
unlimited all summer $150
Blackout dates for which you will receive a free pass to another session:
Wed June 22, Thurs July 21 (roleo at bryant lake park), Wed Aug 3, Thurs Aug 4, Sat Aug 13, Sat Aug 20 (roleo at Lake Minnewashta)
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and send money through paypal email@example.com to register.
What do your friends say about your new endeavor?
Everyone loves it and they are so excited about it! And they can’t hear enough about it. Even my husband gets asked about it at work and from his friends all the time. A friend told me, “I’m just so impressed that you just DID this. No one is giving you permission to do this. You didn’t ask anyone to hire you for this job. You made it.” They are very interested because it’s new and exciting. I’m living out my dream, my passion and I’m making it happen (of course, small scale).
And nothing has been more fun for me to talk about with my friends. I love talking about my new log rolling endeavor because I can be humble and passionate and excited and brave all at the same time. I can be humble because I’m learning so much about creating a business, making a website, designing a logo, marketing, teaching adults, choosing insurance, and more. I can be purely passionate because there has never been something that I’ve been so sure about. Having kids, marrying my husband, deciding to be a teacher, all these things I was pretty sure about, but I had second thoughts. A lot. Not once have I had any second thoughts about my log rolling endeavor. I don’t really know how to explain it except that there hasn’t seemed to be any downside at all. I’m leveraging where I live (on a perfect log rolling beach), I have the summers off and need something to focus on other than my children, I need to get back in shape, I love the idea of watching my kids practice their sport with their friends at home, I love introducing my friends and family to a new “game” at parties at our home, maybe I’ll make a little money eventually, I’m introducing people to something that will enrich their lives and I’m having tons of fun. Every single part of it has been fun so far. It’ll be fun to see where it goes.
Please share any anecdotes about your experience!
Hmmm, I guess a cool story comes to mind:
It was towards the end of the very first log rolling session that I brought 4 or 5 boys to the Minneapolis Log Rolling Club’s Tournament at the Eden Prairie Community Center. I knew it was going to be an all day event so I brought a huge stack of math tests to grade. But I couldn’t sit down. Not once! All day! It was so exciting to see my students compete. I was so proud and amazed at how well they were doing! But the most significant experience for me that day was sitting with the parents. These parents were experiencing, for the first time, something they had only dreamed of for years. You see, the students that enrolled in my log rolling club for that first session were not athletic. They were loners, nerds, awkward, skinny 7th graders that for some reason decided all on their own to try this new sport. In the past their parents had forced them to be in soccer or baseball and these boys had hated every minute of it. It led to arguments at home. Parents were disappointed and sons were misunderstood. I sat next to these parents on the bleachers that day in Eden Prairie while they cheered on their sons at a sporting event. They had dreamed about the day they could watch their kids play a sport ever since their kid was born. Through tears in their eyes, these parents thanked me for providing this opportunity for their sons and for them. It was a powerful moment. All these boys are still log rolling with me currently and I’ve gained the friendships of their parents. It’s been exciting to see the joy log rolling is bringing to these families.