The SPORT of Log Rolling

Jenny Atkinson and Shana Martin (photo courtesy of STIHL Timbersports)

Yes, the sport. You read it right. Because after much scrutinization, lots of questions, and my own feeble attempts, I have hereby deemed women’s professional log rolling a sport. Not that anyone asked me, but I can vouch it’s a verifiable sport that commands a verifiable athlete, and nothing less. And you should try it.

Without question, log rolling requires an array of sport’s related attributes such as lightning fast foot speed, leg and core strength, obvious balance, agility and an extreme level of focus. Pretty much the exact same characteristics a star running back or starting point guard would need to ensure success, so again I declare it a sport.

I asked three-time world log rolling champion Shana Martin what she says to critics who denounce log rolling as a sport. Her response, “I tell them to get up and try it for themselves. It works every time.”

Which is exactly what I got to witness a few months back at the 2011 STIHL Timbersports Series at the Oregon State Fair. Naysayers in the form of men, women and kids alike jumped up on the log to give this unprecedented sport a run. I didn’t see a single person last longer than 4 seconds, including the muscle head boasting his afternoon protein shake who got launched by a 120lb chick in a sport’s bra and lululemon speed shorts.

As a certified fitness instructor, Martin knows wholly what it takes to accurately call something a sport, and more so what makes an athlete – both of which she and log rolling without a doubt are. Fierce competitor, and friend off the log, Jenny Atkinson, is another paradigm of pure fitness training at least 5 times a week. Both women keep their coveted sculpted bodies by log rolling, boom running, cross training, cycling, lifting weights, running bleachers, hell sprints and whatever else they can get into.

Not that a sport is validated based on its monetary value, but professional log rolling is a far cry away from NFL financial status. Even still a far cry away from arena football. Probably even still a far cry from peewee football, especially if you live in Texas where football, even at the age of 3 is cutthroat, serious, and financially sound. Though there are professional log rolling tournaments across the country (mostly in the Midwest) where women bring their toned and strength conditioned bodies to compete for purses of varying prize money, like most underrated women’s sports, funding is being cut. Just one of the reasons keeping Martin and Atkinson from becoming household names.

Shana Martin and Katie Rick (photo courtesy of STIHL Timbersports)

I had the distinct pleasure of spending some real-time with Martin, Atkinson and another top competitor, Katie Rick after their first day of events at the STIHL Timbersports series. Despite not having an “official” competition at this year’s event, all three are confident the sport will make a splashing comeback. “Everyone that has ever tried log rolling seems to catch the bug and fall in love,” Rick says. “We spend much of our free time fostering youth to fall in love with the sport just like we did, all of us before we were ten, to help grow awareness of it,” she adds. I countered asking Martin if she was afraid of the domino effect. Aren’t you afraid the more women you introduce the sport to, the tougher the competition will get, potentially pushing you out? “I’m more afraid of the sport dissolving,” she said flatly. “And what real athlete is afraid of competition?” she asked.

This may be the first time you’ve heard of this wooden sport, but it’s not new by any means. With a little more funding, more mainstream media, and dedicated women like Martin, Atkinson and Rick, this will again be a televised sport. And not just in the background of the movie Precious.

To find out more information about getting involved, visit USLogRolling.com.  To date there are NO places to log roll (legitimately) in Texas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get with the fine folks at US Log Rolling and start something up. I smell a New Year’s Resolution for someone out there?

This article was featured on Culture Map, Houston’s Daily Digital Magazine in the sport’s section.