This axe-wielding mom isn’t going to let a bum knee stop her

May 28, 2015
Ashley Ann Lawrie

Training for a lumberjack competition as a way to spend more quality time with the spouse may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for Shannon DaCosta.
The 33-year-old mother of two decided to give herself a challenge after two years sidelined by a knee injury.

“I was tired of beating myself up, I was tired of feeling lazy, and I am not a lazy person, but there were limitations put on me because of my knee,” Shannon said.

Repeat injuries from competitive soccer had left Shannon without a meniscus in her one knee. This layer of cartilage provides a smooth, cushioned surface for the joint to move on. Without this buffer, it’s bone on bone. That limited Shannon’s mobility, and made it difficult to do basic daily activities, like taking stairs, squatting down or picking up her kids.

Faced with the prospect of a knee replacement, Shannon cancelled a scheduled surgery and decided to see what she could first accomplish with a personal trainer.

“I knew I needed to get that knee strong again,” she said. “Rather than go to a surgeon and say ‘replace it,’ let’s get it strong again and then see what he says.”
Shannon and two of her colleagues decided to come to FFF’s Wellington location close to work. With trainer Torrence Petit, Shannon’s training has focused on strengthening the muscles around the knee, to provide the joint with more stability and comfortable range of motion.

In the past six months, she has seen dramatic improvements all around. She has lost inches, and is much stronger than she was.

“I don’t have the constant pain that I did,” Shannon said. “I can squat down without any problem now, take the stairs and pick up my kids.”


Shannon can pick up a lot more than her busy five-year-old or three-year-old. She recently hit a personal best of 200 lbs on the dead lift.
Which of course will serve her well for that lumberjack competition. That idea came from her husband, John, a big strapping fellow who has represented Canada on its national team. He trains and competes in six different chopping events.

The couple recently competed as a “Jack and Jill” team, where they placed second in the cross-cut saw event. Shannon’s goal is to compete at the international lumberjack competition, taking place in June in Senneterre, QC, in the underhand chop event. She must hew through a 10-inch log in record time.

“That’s what I am really training for,” she said. “It takes a lot of endurance and precision.”

Her training at home includes pounding away on a block with an eight-pound sledge. Husband John knew that pushing toward this kind of goal was what Shannon needed to tap into her competitive nature and get focused.

“He’s a seen a big change in my confidence level, in how strong I feel,” Shannon said. “I would never have thought of coming to FFF a year ago or competing with John.”

Some of that motivation has also come from her boys.

“I want to show them a strong mom,” Shannon said. “I don’t want them to see a mom constantly upset by her weight, but see that their mom and their dad are strong, motivated and working hard toward something. They love watching their dad compete, they’ve got their toy axes and T-shirts that say ‘Future Lumberjacks.’”

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