Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016 3:45 am
By Unsie Zuege firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”