Historically intriguing sport lands in The Woodlands pools

By: Brynn Rader, Woodlands Online
| Published 03/13/2019

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Lumberjacks aren’t the only ones balancing atop floating logs these days. Now residents of The Woodlands have the opportunity to take a spin at log rolling.

For the first time, The Woodlands Township added log rolling to their aquatics program this year. A sneak peek at the sport and the opportunity to give it a whirl is available at no charge to residents this week. In May the township will offer another preview week for those that missed it during spring break.

Once summer arrives, two pools in The Woodlands will offer log rolling classes: one class for those 15 and younger and another for those 16 and older. All ages can get fit and have fun by participating in this unique activity.

Historically, log rolling grew its roots from the need to keep the wood gliding down the river during the logging era. A very different kind of traffic jam created problems on the rivers as the large, heavy logs became stuck. Brave men hopped on (and fell off) the logs, rolling them out of necessity to keep this valuable commodity moving down the stream. This dangerous job soon transformed into a friendly competition amongst the lumberjacks, and by the end of the 19th century, the sport of log rolling was born.

Pine or fir logs were used until the discovery that western red cedar proved to be more buoyant, allowing two adults to spin away as the wood remained afloat. Fans of the sport typically would use a log smoothed by means of a lathe. This meant the rollers’ attire would need to include spiked footwear to keep from slipping on the slick surface. Of course, spikes aren’t the safest addition to a water sport.

Another challenge to participating in this recreational activity was transporting the massive logs to the water body of choice. A family of log rollers in Wisconsin set out to address the obstacles and bring log rolling to everyone. They developed the Key Log, the log of choice used by The Woodlands Township and many other recreational facilities throughout the country.

The Key Log provides a safe log rolling experience without the use of spikes and, being only 65 pounds, is easily transported. Once the yellow training fins are attached, the result is a slower moving and more stabilized log rolling experience so even a novice can learn.

Creekside Pool attracted young and old for a glimpse at this new offering. Debbie Arnold, the aquatics program coordinator for the township, assured all in attendance the sport is not only safe but also very enjoyable and addicting.

“It was super fun. What a good sport too, your endurance and your balance, and then you’re working your legs and your whole upper body,” Sasha Nyren, a 32-year-old participant, said as she grinned from ear to ear. “That’s probably the most exercise I’ve had in a while too.”
A ten-year-old, who was a bit tentative to give log rolling a shot, was surprised it wasn’t as hard to keep his balance as he expected. He enjoyed the experience and wants to sign up for the summer program.

KeyLogRolling.com encourages people to “come and learn why Outside Magazine named Key Log Rolling #4 on their list of ‘50 Perfect Things.’” The site states the activity is high cardio, high core yet low impact resulting in fewer injuries.

Sawmill and Forestgate Pools will house this summer’s log rolling classes. The Woodlands Township plans to make the logs and trainers available to rent for private pool parties.

If log rolling sounds like something you want to try, it’s encouraged to wear a long-sleeved shirt as well as bottoms that at least reach your knees. The clothing protects your skin from the surface of the log as you mount.

Delight and laughter around the log rolling scene gave clear evidence of the future success for this brand new aquatics class. The trainers instituting this activity in our community aim to make the challenging act of log rolling an attainable goal for any who join in. Don’t miss the sneak peek scheduled for May.

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