Abby Hoeschler, 26, logrolling world champion, president of Key Log

 Since age 4, Abby Hoeschler has been running on logs. Now, it’s both her primary source of exercise and her business. Hoeschler comes from a family of world champion logrollers; she grew up in Hayward, Wis., home of the American Birkebeiner, where logrolling is the summertime equivalent of cross-country skiing. When they went to college in Vermont, the Hoeschler sisters shipped logs to the Middlebury campus so they could logroll in the pool. After she graduated, the family tapped her to bring the sport to a greater audience by founding the first company to make synthetic logs for the sport, Key Log (

STEPPING UP “I love the competitive part, but it’s stressful. It’s really intense. You’re on a spinning log in the water. And it’s a sparring sport; you’re trying to get the other person to fall off. When you fall in the water, it’s like getting a knockout punch. You come up gasping for breath and looking like a wet dog. It’s scary stepping up on the log, but after you fall in, you realize nothing bad is happening — it’s only your ego getting hurt.”

WORLD RECORD “I’m the current boom running world champion and world record holder. There are two events: In logrolling, you’re trying to dislodge your competitor from the log (or just be the last one on the log) in a three-out-of-five-round match. In boom running, a course of eight logs tied end to end is attached to two docks, and you sprint across and back. The fastest time wins.”

SHARING THE LOVE “I’ve always loved introducing people to [logrolling] and talking about it, but when I went to boarding school in New Hampshire, people’s reaction to me being a logroller was always, ‘What?!’ In college, my sisters and I taught other students how to logroll, and eventually it turned into a club sport, as well as a P.E. credit. It’s still continues as a strong club without us.”

YEAR-ROUND FITNESS “In the winter I train for the Birkie [in Wisconsin] so going into spring I’m in pretty good shape. By late February or March I’m doing interval workouts to build strength and muscle and endurance. By June I’m out logrolling. I was always in a varsity sport or some sort of athletic endeavor in school, so it was really nice after college to still have something that I’m focusing on to stay healthy and physically fit. It’s really hard for a lot of college athletes who have always had that focus to just lose that after college if you’re not a pro.”

NO SWEAT “In the summer, a friend and I come down to the lake several times a week for an hour and a half in the morning. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes for a match, and then someone falls off and you take a breather and get back on. On hot days, you see [joggers] running by looking miserable. We’re getting our heart rates up to 160, but we’re laughing and having fun in the water. Going out for a logroll doesn’t feel like going out for a run.”

BALANCING ACT “It uses a lot of core ... and a lot of butt, because you’re in the squat position — really digging in. It’s kind of like chair pose in yoga. You keep your shoulders up, with a strong core. It’s an all-body workout. I run and I do yoga, but it’s really difficult to find something comparable. When you add in that balance component it makes it that much more difficult, and it really turns it up.”

BEYOND THE MIDWEST “We had [surfer] Laird Hamilton logrolling at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this summer. We won Outside Magazine’s top five Gear of the Show award. It’s really fun to see people really relating to it.”