Inspiring Stories

Inspiring Story: Anthony Burton, 64

Anthony Burton, 64, is a retiree and artist who was having a difficult time in 2021 coping with the pandemic. When Anthony’s wife introduced him to Morning Stretch hosted by Senior Planet Trainer Cas, he was instantly hooked. Now his participation in Senior Planet’s fitness offerings has greatly improved his health and he has learned that through social engagement, physical exercises, and meditation, he can overcome his depression. 

How has Morning Stretch changed your life? 

The simple act of joining this class led to a massive change in my life. It’s just one of the best things that has happened to me. I can wake up and feel like, “I don’t want to get out of bed” but I know that at 10 o’clock, even if I just go through the motions, afterwards I’ll be awake, alive and ready to take on the day.   

I’ve learned that now is not the time to say no to the things that you’re afraid of

Getting out and getting moving

The classes have given me ammunition on how to come out of a funk. It’s given me the courage and initiative to start other new experiences. For instance, last summer I saw that the Parks Department was advertising a free weekly bootcamp and guess what? I was the number one student. Some weeks I was the only one out there.  

I’ve learned that now is not the time to say no to the things that you’re afraid of…and of the importance of keeping in touch with other people. 

What has it been like to be able to meet some of your friends from Morning Stretch IRL (in real life)? 

It was like meeting movie stars! I wrote about it and shared it with the group – one of the volunteers, Portia, labeled me the poet laureate of Morning Stretch. Here is an excerpt from what I wrote about the experience: 

Well,‎ it’s‎ approaching‎ mid-summer.‎ What‎ have‎ I‎ learned.‎
My‎ wife‎ has‎ a‎ birthday‎ coming‎ up.‎ Still‎ have‎ decluttering‎ to‎ do.‎ Doctor‎ says‎ my‎ blood‎ pressure‎ is‎ “textbook‎ perfect”.‎ Finally‎ got‎ new‎ glasses.‎
But‎ what‎ is‎ really‎ making‎ my‎ heart‎ sing‎ about‎ today?‎
It’s‎ something‎ I‎ THOUGHT‎ would‎ make‎ me‎ feel‎ good.‎ But‎ why‎ am‎ I‎ feeling‎ like‎ THIS!‎ Why‎ am‎ I‎ feeling‎ THIS‎ good!‎
To‎ try‎ to‎ be‎ brief‎ (impossible).‎ It’s‎ because‎ of‎ another‎ textbook‎ answer.‎ It’s‎ because‎ of‎ the‎ way‎ I‎ spent‎ it;‎ the‎ day‎ I‎ mean.‎ I‎ spent‎ it‎ with‎ friends. Friends‎ of‎ a‎ special‎ kind.‎ People‎ that‎ have‎ made‎ a‎ commitment‎ to‎ each‎ other,‎ for‎ however‎ brief‎ a‎ moment.‎ 

Creative retirement

You’re a very talented artist – how are you feeding your creativity in retirement? 

My wife has inducted me as the art instructor for the Senior Centers she works at, so I do still teach some. And I have my own little projects when I can get to them. It keeps me going. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t draw or paint or sculpt. (See Anthony’s drawings of some of his fellow Morning Stretch crew above!) 

 Do you have any words of encouragement for someone who doesn’t know how to get themselves out of a funk and moving again? 

The first thing I can say is that it’s all in the breath. Take deep breaths.  If you want to take advantage of the virtual aspect of a class like Morning Stretch, you can just watch and imagine that you’re doing the exercises and that will help. 

Most importantly – don’t get down on yourself. You can always look up, exhale out the negative and inhale the positive. 

What does Aging with Attitude mean to you? 

To me, it means follow your instincts. And it has to be positive! If you follow your gut, your true gut is not negative, your true soul is a positive soul.  

The trouble comes when you take the negative stuff for gospel – you just need to take that breath and laugh it out. 

Pam Hugi is Senior Planet’s Community and Advocacy Manager. Based in Brooklyn, she is a contributing writer for this site.


10 responses to “Inspiring Story: Anthony Burton, 64

  1. At age 81 I finally retired, and after working all those years, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I began to sleep in really late and spent my next year sitting with my phone playing solitaire. Next came a major health scare and after getting out of the hospital , I knew that my life had to change. Somehow I found the morning stretch program. Thank God! And thank you Senior Planet. I now take several classes with you and have found a new beginning in my life.

  2. I am almost 59 and still working. I joined a group from work called the Chunky Pickles. We stop for 5 minutes to exercise 3-4 times a day. It has made me make such better choices in other areas for the rest of the day. I’ve only been doing it for 2 weeks and the rewards are incredible. I don’t like to just lift weights/exercise like that for very long – very boring to me. But breaking it into small sessions throughout the day is enjoyable and sustainable for me, the group dynamic helps immensely

  3. Thanks, Tony, for sharing your story & be inspiring to others! Cas is very unique in his teachings and I’m so grateful to be his student as I get older but staying young in “mind” : )

  4. Joining Morning Stretch with Cas is the best thing I’ve ever done. Not only is the class physically beneficial for me, it also has given me a lovely group of new people into my life.
    Living alone sometimes makes me feel lonely. So, I enjoy seeing and speaking to my fellow stretchers.
    Thank you so very much for Senior Planet,
    Anna Zabniak

  5. Hello Tony! I don’t often take the time to scroll through the several emails I get each day, but what a blessing I received by reading through the Senior Orbit today….your inspirational message! You absolutely captured Robert, Jeff and Gerald in your sketches! I also feel such gratitude for the Morning Stretch, Fit Fusion and Tai Chi sessions I take regularly with Cas. Finding Senior Planet during the pandemic has added so much to my life, both physically and spiritually. Thank you!

  6. Morning Stretch at 8 am is now a constant in my life. Since before the pandemic I “jumped” on after a referral by my local sr center here in Colorado. At first ,I wanted to see and hear about NYC and feel the numbers of people on line. As the numbers grew , I felt drawn in further so that my schedule centers around Morning Stretch. I also enrolled in an online Tai Chi class because the online classes now are so rewarding. I have also branched out to other apps, but it started with Morning Stret


  8. Tony speaks with such poetic eloquence of what Morning Stretch has done for him to uplift, encourage, heal, and inspire. Cas has created a community, a family, in Morning Stretch, and Tony is a big part as he shares his many gifts with the rest of us, given with warmth, openness, kindness, humor, and love. He expresses our common feelings in his poetry and his unique insights in the conversation after the exercise, meditation, and thoughts for the day. Thank you for everything, Tony!

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