Starting Line Run Studio on Dartmouth Street in Portland offers group treadmill and strength training classes. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)
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It happens every winter. Spurred on by new-year optimism and holiday revelry, we start telling people crazy things like “This year, I’m going to run a 10K.”

Or was it a marathon?

It doesn’t matter. We’re not expecting to medal in some elite road race, we’re just looking for running inspiration. We want to be one of those extraordinary people who can wake up in the morning, step into a pair of sneakers, and bang out a few miles. We just want to be runners. 

So we make promises about future road races. It’s easy to make commitments like that when the skies are dumping snow, that race is months away, and we’re super sure we’ll start training soon. Any day now. 

Danielle Kroot, owner of Starting Line Run Studio in Portland, believes there’s a runner inside everyone who just needs a little support and encouragement to come out. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

Maybe we can use a little help in the run inspiration department. 

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 changing our minds 45 seconds in. And who knows, maybe we can even (gasp!) have fun while we’re at it. 

All that – fun included – can be found at the Starting Line Run Studio on Dartmouth Street in Portland.

Opened last fall, Starting Line is Maine’s first dedicated run studio. Run studios, which feature treadmill-based workouts as well as other runner-centric training, have been popping up around the country over the last few years, offering a range of treadmill classes for runners of all levels.

Starting Line 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.)

Kroot doesn’t buy the line we non-runners love to spread, that some of us just “can’t run.” And she’s eager to prove us wrong. She’s also a friendly and upbeat instructor, which means runners of every level will feel welcome stepping onto a treadmill here. 

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. You 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.

Plus, classes accommodate every pace – whether you prefer to sprint or jog, walk or run. Every runner challenges themselves at their own level and no one gets left behind. 

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

The Maine Peaks class is 45 minutes of high-intensity hill intervals, 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 on strength training using bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, and plyometric and TRX exercises. 

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, Kroot is there to guide you, push you, and definitely yell out “Looking good! Keep it up!” more than a few times.

And let’s not forget the camaraderie of a group class. You can commiserate and/or cheer on the person next to you, even if your paces are totally different. You’ll be equally challenged (and probably equally sweating).

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. Rates range from $25 for one class, $110 for a five-class pass, and $180 for a 10-class pass. You can also come in during “open tread” time and run on a treadmill for up to two hours for $15.  

So you can start training now for that summer road race and you’ll be a runner before you know it.

Freelance writer Shannon Bryan lives in South Portland and is the founder of, where she writes about the coolest ways to be active and get outdoors in Maine.

A run studio is much like an indoor cycling class, except with treadmills instead of bikes. There’s  good music, a planned workout, and plenty of running camaraderie. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

Tred Shed Marathon Relay

Starting Line Run Studio is hosting the Tred Shed Marathon Relay, Maine’s first treadmill relay, on Feb. 29 at 9 a.m.: “No hills, no inclement weather, no one left behind.” There’s space for nine four-person teams, and each member will run at least a 5K. Cost is $150 per team. Sign up at

Starting Line Run Studio, 49 Dartmouth St., Portland; phone 207-835-1513; online at

— Shannon Bryan

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