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.