Learn Log Rolling

How to work out like a lumberjack

Two girls practicing log rolling on a lake during a sunny day.

Abby Hoeschler (right) and her sister Lizzie Horvitz roll with it at Cedar Lake

photo by ryan taylor

Judy Scheer Hoeschler was just 16 when she won the women’s world logrolling championship in 1972. For those unfamiliar with the sport, two opponents standing on either end of a floating log try to knock each other off using only the motions of their feet and the log. Back then log rolling was a rarity outside of a few places, including Hayward, Wisconsin, home to the Lumberjack World Championships, where Hoeschler grew up. Hoeschler kept rolling, winning six more world titles. After she moved to La Crosse and started a family, her children took to the obscure, beloved sport as easily as, well, you know. Between the five of them, they’ve won 20 world titles and hold two world records.

In 2010, Hoeschler’s middle daughter, Abby, finished college in Vermont (she was the only freshman to arrive with a 500-pound western red cedar log in her truck) and moved to Minneapolis to start Key Log Rolling. Working with engineers at Winona State University and Wenonah Canoe, the family developed a 65-pound artificial rolling log that rolls like the good old fashioned variety when filled with water. Since then, Key Log Rolling has started more than 400 programs in 48 states and seven countries (there were fewer than 10 log rolling programs when they started).

The appeal? “Log rolling has this intensity,” Abby says. “You have to be both focused and Zen at the same time. It’s ruthless but not violent. The log is your playing fields and your weapon all at once. And when you win, you really feel like you conquered something.” Now she wants to conquer something else. “Our mission is to make log rolling an Olympic sport, and we’re really excited to make Minneapolis ground zero for that.” 


Local Park & Rec departments and aquatic centers offer classes, including Minneapolis classes at lakes Nokomis and Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska


Minneapolis Log Rolling Club, Blue Ox Log Rolling


Train for the 2018 Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, WI, or try a local roleo (informal tournament): Bryant Lake Roleo in Eden Prairie, Big Island and Back in Excelsior, East Cedar Lake Beach Roleo in Minneapolis, and the Minnesota State Fair


3 out of 4 stars (2 with “training paddles”)

Digital Extra: See how to work out like a lumberjack 

A guy and a girl log rolling on a lake on a sunny day.

Two girls log rolling on a lake on a sunny day.