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.
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.