Lumberjacks And Lumberjills
When you hear the word Lumberjack, I'm sure a Paul Bunyan-esque image of a burly, flannel-clad bearded man comes to mind for most of you. This may be an accurate description for a majority of the men that compete in modern-day Lumberjack competitions, but it's time to shine the spotlight on their female counterparts - Lumberjills.
These female competitors have to possess an extraordinary amount of balance, strength, and endurance (sans beards) to compete in competitions like The Lumberjack World Championships. To get a sense of what it takes to be a modern day Lumberjill, we recently spoke with co-owner of Madison Log Rolling, Shana Verstegen who is a four-time log rolling and two-time boom running world champion.
Fitness Cult Chronicles: Tell us a little bit more about your background - what initially peaked your interest about log rolling?
Shana Verstegen: I began log rolling at the age of 7 when I saw it offered at our local YMCA swimming pool. Believe it or not, there are programs for kids (and adults) all over the US and Canada!
FC^2: Were there any major log rollers or Lumberjack sport competitors that influenced you growing up?
SV: At a young age I was lucky to meet many lumberjack athletes, all of who taught me to work hard but focus on having fun with competing. As a child, a lady named Tina Salzman (10 time world champion) always fascinated me. She trained very hard and was always so determined; I knew I would have to work as hard as her if I ever wanted to be a champion.
FC^2: The boom run looks intense, how long does it generally take someone to master this?
SV: It is intense! Imagine sprinting a 100-meter dash on logs that are floating, spinning, and bobbing. Unlike log rolling, people can pick up this event much quicker, although it is significantly more dangerous. People with log rolling experience tend to pick it up faster, but we have seen some sprinters learn to master the event.
FC^2: Describe the additional training you do for log rolling and boom running - do you do a combination of weights and balance routines?
SV: In the off-season I focus on building strength and letting my brain and body recover from the summer of competition. This is done with a combination of heavy lifting days and functional movement days. As spring approaches, I add more running and hill sprints into my program and spend more time on the log in the water. During competition season (End of June through August) I spend the majority of my training time on the water either log rolling or boom running with an occasional cycling and water fitness class thrown in for variety.
FC^2: When did you decide to become a trainer and start teaching others? Did you always want to do this or was your secret dream to be an accountant?
SV: I most definitely had no desire to be an accountant (I’m sure my accountant is giggling right now imagining that scenario)! As a young girl I remember my dad telling me there was a real job where people help other people learn to exercise. I thought he was kidding until he took me to the University of Wisconsin - Madison’s Kinesiology Department on “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”
In college (at the University of Wisconsin) I eventually became president of the Kinesiology Club, became a personal trainer and fitness director, and now am a Master Instructor for TRX and the American Council on Exercise. Doors continue to open and I am having a blast doing what I love! I’ve always believed that if you do what you love, you will be successful.
FC^2: Do you find that most of your students at Madison Log Rolling are younger, or do you have an older clientele who are looking to train for the sport as well?
SV: We have students of all ages! Madison, Wisconsin is a fantastic community that embraces outdoor activities of all kinds. Our competitive team is composed of mostly younger athletes, but we do have a fun group of adults who enjoy spending their evenings log rolling for a fun and unique fitness activity.
FC^2: Can you tell us a bit about the Lumberjack Sports community? Is it a small dedicated group or has the sport been growing?
SV: Both! It most definitely is a small group, but the sport of log rolling especially is growing rapidly. We have more competitors and competitions now than ever before, thanks to groups like the United States Log Rolling Association and a new synthetic log called the “Key Log” which makes the sport easier to access for those without access to Western Red Cedar.
FC^2: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in Lumberjack training?
SV: Visit www.uslogrolling.com to find a program nearby. If there aren’t any, get a log and start training! Getting and staying in shape should be fun, and I can’t think of anything more fun than log rolling outside to achieve that goal! Get ready to have your balance, core strength, leg strength, coordination, and cardiovascular endurance challenged!
Visit the links below to learn more about Shana Verstegen:
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/ShanaMartinLumberjackFitness
*Photos courtesy of Shana Verstegen
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