While the CrossFit fitness program has been wildly popular lately, there has been debate about whether it’s appropriate for runners.

Many runners swear that CrossFit’s constant variety and emphasis on form have improved their endurance and staved off injuries, while others feel that the regimen produces leaden legs and slower times.

Runners curious about CrossFit will have a chance to see for themselves as CrossFit comes to Galveston’s Menard Park for the next two “Fitness in the Park” workouts.

These free classes are held the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 a.m. between the bandshell and McGuire-Dent Recreation Center.

Fitness in the Park is a new initiative presented by Transforming Galveston as part of its mission to improve the health and wellness of the Galveston community.

On Saturday, CrossFit Galveston hosts the free workout in the park, and on Aug. 9, CrossFit Tidal Wave brings its “workout of the day” to the park.

CrossFit is based around 10 basic physical skills: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

The specific set of exercises changes daily, with all participants doing the workout of the day, but at their own intensity level.

One of the biggest benefits of CrossFit to runners stems from its “functional fitness” approach, which includes range of motion exercises that can improve running stride and arm movements.

Another area where CrossFit has much to offer runners is the ballistic movements such as jumping from the floor onto a box. That exercise translates directly into a more powerful kick at the end of a race.

Proponents also report that CrossFit builds mental stamina that can keep a distance runner from hitting the dreaded “wall.” The mental fortitude can be useful in non-running endeavors as well.

Even the biggest CrossFit fans agree that it isn’t for all runners. Finding out more about it doesn’t get much easier, though, than a free Saturday morning workout in the park.

Bernice Torregrossa is a five-time marathoner and a water exercise instructor. She can be reached at bernice92@aol.com.

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