Writer finds his balance on a log—one baby step at a time.
Standing knee-deep in water on a warm August day, I ready myself to step out of my comfort zone and onto a log. Lured by a heart-pumping workout that tests stamina and grit, the throwback sport of log rolling is gaining in popularity among non-lumberjack types. I’m nervous. The closest I’ve been to log rolling is when, as a child, I crawled on my hands and knees across a fallen tree. Balance, sadly, has never been my strength.
My log rolling guide is Sarah Beron, a math teacher at Minnetonka High School, her own alma mater. She assures me it’s like learning to ride a bicycle. As the owner and lead instructor of Blue Ox Log Rolling, Beron teaches people of all ages and levels about the sport in the backyard of her Victoria home on Lake Auburn. “I can’t tell you how many times people log rolling say, ‘One more time,’” she says. “And then it’s two hours later, and they’re still saying it.”
Beron says her teaching skills, her family—she and her husband, Nolan, have two daughters, Nora, 7, and Elsa, 6—and her favorite workout form the foundation for her business. “Log rolling and being a small business owner fill me with so much joy, it makes me a better wife, mother and teacher,” she says.
Whether the setting is a classroom or lake, teaching is Beron’s passion. During the summer, she offers classes and an adult league night, as well as log rolling–themed events like birthday or corporate parties. She also takes the logs and an inflatable pool on the road to breweries and the Minnesota State Fair. And the log rolling doesn’t end for her when the weather turns cold. Beron teaches the sport at Minnetonka Middle School West in Excelsior on most Saturdays from September to June through Minnetonka Community Education. And she serves as the advisor for both the Minnetonka middle and high schools’ log rolling clubs.
Footwork and core strength, Beron stresses, are crucial to excelling in a sport she touts as a mix between yoga and kickboxing. Staying atop a log for long stretches challenges legs, lungs, core and mind. “You don’t realize it when you’re on the log, but once you fall off, you’re so out of breath, you’re like, ‘What just happened?’” says Shorewood’s Riley Histon, 16, one of Beron’s students. “When you’re on the log, you’re so concentrated and focused, you don’t have time to think if you’re tired.”
I test the buoyancy of the log by pushing down on it with my hand. Assured that it will hold my weight, I slowly climb aboard, stand up then look around. My knees buckle. Splash! Down I go into the lake. The log’s motion is squirrelly, like walking on a wet, moving tightrope. I forget to move my feet. “Boy, that’s not easy,” I say to Beron.
“You will be trying over and over again,” she says. “That’s how it works.”
Eventually, near the end of my lesson, my feet and head align, and I giddily march on the log for a good 10 seconds or so before I drop into the water. “That was awesome,” Beron says. “I can tell you felt it there. You felt how your body was affecting the log.” I’m breathing hard. It’s a good workout. “You can keep going or take a break,” she says.
“One more time,” I say.
“Oh, there’s the classic ‘one more time,’” she says with a laugh.