As a desk worker, I don’t get much exercise. I’ve been working office jobs for the past several years and have struggled to stay in shape the entire time.

While I do get some exercise a couple nights a week training in martial arts, I wanted something else I could add to my routine. Something that wouldn’t require a lot of time or money. I started brainstorming, and came up with an odd solution.

The way of the lumberjack

Have you ever seen a depiction of a fat lumberjack? I haven’t either. While I don’t think much about lumberjacks, I have split a lot of firewood in the past. My dad has always had side hustles (although he’s never heard that term) and selling firewood was one of them. When I was probably 8 or so, I had my first experience with taking an axe and slamming it through a log. It wasn’t easy for a short 90lb kid, but I’ve always liked a challenge and swinging an axe is a great stress reliever.

From that point forward, splitting firewood was an annual tradition for me until I got a real job. We got a wood splitter when I was about 13 so I did sit the axe down after that point. We got really serious about selling firewood and the splitter allowed me to work for much longer without getting tired. I still got a decent workout just from putting the longs on the splitter and stacking the split pieces.

I don’t know what made me think back on splitting wood when I was a kid, but I’ve recently decided that I want to start doing it again. Splitting wood is great! You can get the wood for free and all it requires is a way to haul it, a place to store it, and an axe.

Where does one find unsplit firewood?

I did a quick search for firewood on Facebook Marketplace and found a listing for free, unsplit wood in a matter of minutes. If you pay for your firewood, you should think about splitting it yourself and getting it for free. I understand some people don’t want to invest the time to split it, but if you’re spending time working out each week, you can easily replace the workouts with splitting wood and have good results.

If you keep your eye out, it probably won’t take long at all to find some wood that is already on the ground and you can pick up for free. I don’t have a chainsaw and haven’t ever used one, so I made sure to find some wood that was already cut into shorter pieces.

Start by checking buy and sell websites or Facebook Marketplace and you’ll eventually come across someone wanting to get rid of their wood. I don’t like the idea of cutting down a bunch of trees, but there’s always going to be people who do. It’s better to use a tree that has been cut down rather than letting it sit and rot. You might even find someone willing to pay you to haul off their wood!

Getting away from technology

Most people seem to look down on the amish but I think they may be on to something. There’s something about getting outdoors and working up a sweat that you just can’t get from a smartphone. While there are obvious benefits we reap from using technology, we have gotten addicted to it and it’s causing adverse effects. If I didn’t use my phone for my job, blog and eBay business, I think it would be best for me to go back to using a flip phone.

Splitting firewood is one of the most primitive things you can do nowadays. I’m certainly not a scientist but I wouldn’t be surprised if my focus improves after splitting wood for a few months. I’ve constantly got 2-3 screens open for 8 hours a day as well as use my phone and I’ve noticed it’s hard for me to just focus on one thing now. I’m hoping that splitting firewood for a little while each day will help me detox my brain from the technology overload I’ve put on it.

Why would I want to split firewood for a workout?

Let’s do some comparisons to see how splitting firewood compares to working out at a gym.

Two people workout 5 times a week. Person A goes to the gym. Person B splits firewood.

Person A – Drives 5 minutes (2.5 miles) out of their way each way to the gym. That’s a total of 40 hours and 1,300 miles a year.

Person B – Finds someone giving away firewood 30 minutes (15 miles) away from their house. With one truck load, person B gets enough wood to split for a month. Person B’s totals for the year are 12 hours and 180 miles. Person B also gets a workout loading and unloading all the wood.

Person A – Pays $200 a year for a gym membership and $780 for driving (60 cents a mile average driving cost). Person A spends $980 a year to workout not including any clothes that may be purchased just for the gym.

Person B – Pays $50 for a good axe that will last for years and $108 for gas. Person B splits 12 loads of wood over the year and sells them all for $100 a load. Person B earns an extra $1,042 in a year. That money can be put into the stock market and grow forever!  

Person A – Takes 45 minutes to get a good workout because there’s a lot of people in the gym and you have to wait for certain machines.

Person B – Spends 5 minutes stretching and gets a great, heart pounding workout in 25 minutes. All muscles in the body are worked out as person B picks up heavy logs and swings an axe.

Person A – Is exposed to all kinds of germs at the gym and is much more likely to get sick as a result.

Person B – Works outside and gets more vitamin D. As a result, person B is happier and has a stronger immune system than person A. Person B also spends more time outside around their own fire pit with friends and family as there is plenty of wood to be burned.

Can anyone be a lumberjack?

I realize that splitting firewood isn’t an option for everyone. If you don’t have a truck or a trailer you can haul the wood with, you won’t be able be a lumberjack. Paying for a gym might be worth it to you if you enjoy the social aspects of being around other people or taking classes as a group. I’m sure there are lots of happy couples out there that met at the gym.

You can also get a more thorough workout at the gym but I would argue that splitting firewood is just about all you need to stay in shape as long as you stretch.

Splitting wood is just one of many ways that you can skip the gym and actually earn money at the same time you workout. If you live in a city, you could walk dogs for extra money and exercise. An extra few hundred dollars a year can grow into hundreds of thousands of dollars over the over your life if invested properly.

Obviously, there is value to a gym membership but it is more expensive than other alternatives.

Do you have any ways that you’re getting paid to workout? Leave your ideas in the comments below!