The head coach and owner of the Running Center in New York City is bringing her classes for beginner to experienced runners to Ventnor.

Mindy Solkin, who said she has coached more than 12,000 runners since 1992, starting in October will offer group classes for those seeking to run a marathon, run a half marathon, or just get fit through walking or improve their balance and stability.

Solkin, who grew up in Philadelphia and spent summers at the Jersey Shore, is expanding to the area in part to return to a place she loves, she said.

She also wants to bring to the area the kind of studio training for runners she provides in the city, where many customers are doing weekend Central Park races with the New York Road Runners or big events such as the upcoming New York City Marathon.

"It's a little different than what happens on the Boardwalk down here, but I'm here to change that," she said.

In the summer Solkin offered hourlong classes, starting at the Boardwalk and Dorset Avenue in Ventnor.

For a hill, the groups used the Dorset Avenue Bridge. As always, she personalized the workout to individual levels and tastes, she said, always beginning and ending with a stretch.

Classes usually include some of her center's trademark "Runditioning" - running specific conditioning exercises.

Now the local branch of the Running Center will get more serious, with classes to prepare for a marathon (that's 26.2 miles) or a half marathon.

Next month there will also be classes for beginning runners, as well as fitness walking classes on the Ventnor Boardwalk and Balance & Stability Classes for Seniors.

She said that for now, she doesn't need a studio with treadmills and other equipment like she has in New York since "we're runners and don't really want to run indoors unless we have to."

The popularity of running has quadrupled over the past couple of decades as Americans have sought to improve their fitness and looked for events to challenge themselves.

There were 4.8 million runners who completed events in 1990, according to surveys by Running USA. By 2013, that number had ballooned to 19 million.

Over the same period, women took over as the dominant event runners, growing from about a third of runners in 1990 to 57 percent of U.S. runners in 2013.

Solkin was a pioneer among women runners, inspired by her brother to start in the late 1970s and competing through the 1990s.

Her first career was as a fashion designer, but a running camp in Vermont in 1989 put her on a different course.

"I met a Brooklyn boy and moved to New York," she said. "Together we started this little coaching business while I was still doing fashion."

First she left fashion for sports marketing, and then in 1999 left that and competitive running to open the Running Center, which is on Broadway in Manhattan.

To her running experience she added certification by USA Track & Field as a Level 3-educated running coach, and by the American Council on Exercise as a personal trainer.

When training for a particular event as a personal fitness goal became widely popular, Solkin became a familiar face for such training on network news shows in New York and in newspapers and magazines.

Participants in recent local events may have seen "Coach Mindy" leading a pre-run stretch and distributing PowerBars at the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run in Ventnor or the Bocca Bar Crawl Bike Ride through Margate, where she ran between the participating bars. At the Margate FunFest, she led short Runditioning classes.

When the October class schedule becomes available, participants can sign up online at therunningcenter.com.

Information is also available by calling the Running Center at 212-362-3779.

Contact Kevin Post:

609-272-7250

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