The noble TREADMILL.

Constructed mostly out of hard plastic and unadulterated running aspiration mined directly from the dreams of the world’s jog-walkers, the treadmill is one of the most prolific pieces of fitness equipment. A gym staple!

It’s also the rolling pedestal on which we place our individual running optimism.

“I’m going to be a runner!” we scream in our heads (or out loud) as our sneakered feet step onto the treadmill. “I’m going to listen to my murder podcast and sprint for days!” We start walking, then a light jog. We tick the incline up a notch. OMG we’re running and it feels so good! And then it doesn’t!

45 seconds later we’re hitting the emergency stop button and shuffling off to find a sandwich.

It’s an emotional roller coaster.

A few of the noble treadmills at the Starting Line Run Studio. Shannon Bryan photo

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

We CAN step onto that treadmill and run – really run, just like we aspire to. Maybe we just need a little help. And by “help” I mean a sweet soundtrack, some running camaraderie, and a planned workout under the guidance of a coach who can give us tips on form AND be just threatening enough (in a super-nice way) to keep us from bailing only 45 seconds in. And who knows, we might even think it’s FUN! (Gasp!)

And we can find all that at the Starting Line Run Studio in Portland.

The Starting Line Run Studio on Dartmouth Street in Portland. Shannon Bryan photo

The newly opened Starting Line Run Studio is Maine’s first run studio (run studios have been popping up around the country over the last few years), offering a range of treadmill classes for runners of all levels.

Owner Danielle Kroot is a physical therapist, running and triathlon coach, and – no surprise – an avid runner. (She even met her husband Jason while they were training for the Boston Marathon with a team that raises money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.) She’s also a wildly friendly, upbeat, and welcoming instructor.

Danielle Kroot, owner of the Starting Line Run Studio in Portland. Shannon Bryan photo

So what exactly is a run studio?

Imagine an indoor cycling class, but instead of a room full of stationary bikes, there are rows of treadmills. Plus you still get the lively atmosphere of a group class: the good overhead tunes, the set-in-stone start and end times, the positive peer pressure to show up and work hard. And it can be way more fun than running on your own.

The Fit Maine Social Club had an excellent time at the Starting Line class at the Run Studio. Shannon Bryan photo

There’s a range of classes to choose from at Starting Line, depending on your level and goals.  There’s the 45-minute Starling Line class, which blends walking and running and perfect for all levels, and the 60-minute Endure class that includes rolling hills and fast finish.

The Maine Peaks class is 45 minutes of high intensity hill intervals (heyo!) and the Run Mantra class is 45 minutes of not fretting about pace but running only for the reasons YOU like to run. There’s also a Run Stronger class that takes place off the treadmill and is focused strong running through strength training using body weight, kettlebells, dumbbells, and plyometric and TRX exercises. More about classes here.

Runners running! The Starting Line class is a great all-levels class perfect for new runners. Shannon Bryan photo

Whether you’re a new runner or long-time runner, if you’re looking to pick up your pace, improve your endurance, or sprint up hills for 45 minutes, Danielle is there to guide you, push you, and definitely yell out “Looking good! Keep it up!” more than a few times.

Plus, one of the many perks of group classes is all those other people (unlike, say, running on a treadmill at the gym, when you’re generally trying to avoid interacting with the person next to you). In a group class, you can commiserate and cheer on the person next to you, even if your paces are totally different. You’ll be equally challenged (and probably equally sweating).

Many paces running side-by-side. A perk to the run studio. Shannon Bryan photo

In addition to the treadmill and strength classes, the Starting Line Run Studio also has physical therapy and coaching services to help you get after that running goal. More on those services here.

Rates range from $25 for one class to $180 for a 10-class pass. And First timers who move quickly can get the first-timer package: $30 for 3 classes (must purchase by 1/10/20).

ALSO! Maine’s First Treadmill Relay!
Starting Line Run Studio is hosting the Tred Shed Marathon Relay on Feb 29 at 9 a.m. “No hills, no inclement weather, no one left behind.” There’s space for nine 4-person teams (cost $125/team early bird, $150/team after Feb. 1) and each member will run at least a 5K.

For more info or to register:

Starting Line Run Studio

Maine’s first run studio!
49 Dartmouth St, Portland