No offense to paddleboarding, but logrolling is the coolest new (er, really old) workout on the water.

By Kelsey Ogletree
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Ian Deveau

Prepare to get soaked. The goal of logrolling, a sport that dates to the lumberjack and logging camp era, is to dislodge your opponent (i.e., make them fall in the water) without using your hands. In competitions, forcing three out of five falls wins the match. For recreation, though, “most people just try to stay on and have fun,” says Shana Verstegen, cofounder of Madison Log Rolling club in Wisconsin (and a six-time world-champion pro logroller!).

Every summer, kids and adults flock to her program on Lake Wingra for logrolling matches, private lessons and parties. It’s not only an entertaining way to beat the heat, but solid exercise too: Logrolling tests your cardiovascular fitness, as well as your endurance, coordination, balance and concentration, Verstegen says.

While her program still uses actual logs—Western red cedar, as the sport requires—a Minneapolis company called Key Log Rolling has made the sport accessible with 65-pound synthetic logs that feel like the real thing. Their website is helpful for finding logrolling opportunities (such as at YMCAs or university rec centers), and they even rent logs to take to the cabin for a few days.

Know Before You Go

Manage Expectations Come with an open mind and get ready to laugh: No one is good the first time they try it. “Logrolling is the world’s greatest equalizer,” says Shana Verstegen.

Dress Appropriately Though you can logroll barefoot, Verstegen recommends closed-toe shoes with grippy soles, like aqua socks, water shoes or even canvas sneakers.

Don't Give Up Every time you come back to try logrolling, you’ll get better. Once you learn how to move your feet and balance your body, it gets easier, Verstegen says.