Have an Axe to Grind? This Timber Sports Athlete Will Show You How

Alissa Wetherbee is the first person to logroll across the Mississippi River, and still holds the world record. To gain and hold onto this title, Wetherbee had to stand on a log, and with great strength, balance and footwork, roll the log across the width of the Mississippi River within the distance from Port Byron,…

Alissa Wetherbee is the first person to logroll across the Mississippi River, and still holds the world record.

To gain and hold onto this title, Wetherbee had to stand on a log, and with great strength, balance and footwork, roll the log across the width of the Mississippi River within the distance from Port Byron, IL, to LeClaire, IA. Talk about serious core muscles, balance, overall body strength and a strong mind! Oh, yeah, the founder of  AXE Women Loggers of Maine is pretty nifty at axe throwing as well.

Despite having asthma her entire life, this timber sport athlete stays in consistent physical shape year-round and continues to crush timber sports while entertaining people across the United States.

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The Making of an Axe Woman

Growing up on an island in Maine, Alissa Wetherbee’s family heated their home strictly with wood for several years, making chopping wood a huge part of her childhood. By the time Wetherbee was a teen, she knew how to use a chainsaw and could easily split logs using a maul. She says she actually to manually chop her own wood rather than stand over a gas-powered splitter all day.

Fast-forward to the beginning of an amazing career in Timbersports for Wetherbee, when at age 20, she took her first job as the only woman in a lumberjack show. This meant she was chopping wood all day with her dad while competing in logging sport demonstrations at night.

Realizing she was a natural at events such as axe throwing, underhand chopping, and log rolling, Wetherbee began competing in other local competitions, and soon found herself in New York, competing in the World’s Open Lumberjill Contest, in which she took first place in the axe throw.

Since then, Alissa Wetherbee has started her own business, The Axe Women Loggers of Maine, which consists of a team of professional female athletes who travel throughout North America competing and performing at different types of venues; entertaining people of all ages. And it doesn’t stop there: the women who make up her team consist of world champions, world record holders, and collegiate champions! Needless to say, Wetherbee’s accomplishments are nothing short of impressive, and although she’s a natural, her daily discipline keeps her sharp as an axe.

Courtesy of Alissa Wetherbee

The Training Consistency of a Champion

After training consistently for 20 years, Wetherbee feels at the age of 41, she needs to train a little harder nowadays at staying in shape than she did years ago.  Even with the added training, she remains dedicated to her sport and continues to stay fit and strong, inspiring women across the nation.

The bulk of Wetherbee’s training comes from doing the actual event since she was able to make her passion in timbers ports a full-time business. “During our busy season, I’m chopping a 12-inch-diameter log four times a day, and usually against someone half my age! Being competitive definitely helps me stay in shape,” she says.

Wetherbee says she trains the hardest for the chopping events. This might sound easy, but it’s the total opposite. To give you a closer look: During the “underhand chop,” a competitor stands on top of a horizontal log and uses an axe to chop the log in half between their feet, cross-cut sawing (using a 6-foot-long steel saw to cut a log by pushing and pulling the saw through the wood), while log rolling, (balancing on a floating log in the water trying to knock an opponent off). Needless to say, there’s no need for a gym membership when you’re training like this. “All of these events use nearly every single muscle in your body’ They require balance, strength and endurance,” says Wetherbee.

It’s easy to see why log rolling is a full-body workout. “It requires strength [especially core strength], speedy footwork, agility, balance, concentration, and works out every muscle in your body,” Wetherbee explains.

But, outside of her events, she lives a lifestyle of fitness and stays consistent in her routine which consists of daily axe throwing with her husband in their backyard after dinner, along with running a few times per week. “Even if it’s only a mile or two each day, it’s an important part of my routine,” she adds. And on non-running days, Wetherbee sweats it out on a stationary bike.

Dealing with asthma her whole life, Wetherbee refuses to let it stop her from living out her passion in logging sports. “I make sure to work on my breathing with every exercise I do; the running and biking are the most helpful for my lungs,” Wetherbee says.

Axeing a lot from her diet

On top of training hard and teaching others about logging sports, Alissa Wetherbee also found the time to create her very own hot sauce, “Axe-Kickin” sauces, spices, and mixers.

All the multitasking training comes a clean and disciplined diet, and for Alissa Wetherbee, a high-protein diet works best. She and her husband eat a lot of eggs, beans, spinach, avocados, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. After each run or biking session comes a nutrient-packed smoothie that consists of almond milk, protein powder with either banana or berries.

She’s also very watchful of her water intake and tries to drink at least 80 oz of water per day on top of other liquids like sports and protein drinks. “I find that I feel so much better when I drink plenty of water, and If I fall behind on my water intake for a day, I can feel it as soon as I wake up the next morning.”

Wetherbee also keeps a close eye on her activity levels each day by tracking her sleep patterns, heart rate, and water intake by wearing a Fitbit. “It encourages me to keep moving, and, being a competitive person, I love the fact that you can have challenges with your friends using the app,” says Wetherbee. Your daily habits will either help you reach your goal or keep you far from them, and Wetherbee is living proof of this.

Alissa Wetherbee’s Beginner Tips on Starting Logging Sports

  1. Find a trusted instructor or coach who competes professionally in the sport; or used to. (Attending a logging sport show may be a great place to find a trusted source.)
  2. If you have local competitions nearby, go and watch and talk to the competitors. Most of us love talking about our sport and helping get new athletes involved.
  3. Keep in mind, logging sports are extremely safe — as long as you learn the techniques of each event the right way from the very beginning. “I’ve seen very few injuries in my 20-year career,” she says. “And besides the occasional twisted ankle from log rolling, I’ve only ever had one serious injury myself.”

Alissa Wetherbee has taught hundreds of children how to log roll. And just last year, she and her husband started up Woods and Warriors – a division of Axe Women that offers axe-throwing lessons to veterans groups and organizations, completely free to vets.

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This story originally appeared on: Muscle & Fitness - Author:vkim