It is described by many as a historic sport for modern times. But the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department sees log rolling as a competitive way to have a lot of fun too. This spring, the department is offering a new course on log rolling.
You may be asking: “What in the world is log rolling?”
Log rolling has a history that dates back more than 100 years. As America was growing, the need for lumber grew as well. Lumberjacks transported logs down local waterways and frequently jumped from log to log on the rivers to keep wood moving downstream. The challenge and skill developed from rolling logs quickly turned into a sport outside the work day.
The popular sport in Wisconsin and Minnesota has transformed in recent years to become more accessible and user-friendly. At one point, 500-pound cedar logs were smoothed out and carpeted to be gentler on feet. However, this didn’t solve the issue of transporting a very heavy log. A synthetic log was later developed by the company, Key Log Rolling. This new type of log weighs only 65 pounds before it is put into water, making it much more mobile.
With the addition of a key log, the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department is one of the first to offer log-rolling courses in central Ohio.
The man behind this new class is Parks and Recreation Program Supervisor Darcy Baxter.
“We’re always looking to bring new adventure programs to the Community Center,” said Baxter. “I was at the Ohio State Fair last year, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had this cool log-rolling exhibit. I had never seen the sport in person before, and a light bulb went off…our camp kids would love this.”
And so far the Parks and Recreation employees training on the log are loving it as well.
“You might be a little nervous the first time you get on the log, but you have to be able to laugh at yourself,” said Parks and Recreation Facilities Supervisor J.R. Fourqurean. “I fell off within two seconds of jumping on the first time. Now that we are all getting better, we are battling it out on our lunch breaks to see who is the best lumberjack. It really brings out the competitor in you in the best way possible.”
Beyond the fun factor, log rolling proves to be a well-rounded workout, improving balance, coordination, endurance and foot speed.
“Since you are having a good time, the physical fitness aspect of log rolling sneaks up; and you end up getting a really good workout. Your legs are constantly moving while your core is stabilizing the rest of your body,” explained Baxter.
Log rolling also strengthens mental focus and concentration.
“You might think you just jump on the log and go. But, just like any other sport, log rolling takes specific techniques and strategies to be successful,” said Baxter. “For example, unlike a balance beam, you don’t look down at your feet and instead focus on the opposite end of the log.
The four-week course starting April 12 is intended to teach beginners the basics, including safety, stance, timed trials and even some matches to try to knock other class participants off the log. To make it easier to learn, the log comes with different “training wheels,” which slow the log down so anyone can give it a spin.
Earlier this winter, ABC-6 Good Day Columbus Meteorologist Dana Turtle escaped the cold and tested his log-rolling skills at the Westerville Community Center pool. Check out his experience in this video.
The log roll will be utilized at camps, community events and Highlands Parks Aquatic Center in the future. You’ll even get the chance to see the log roll in action at Party at the Creek on May 28.
For more information on log-rolling classes or to register beginning March 6, click here.