For anywhere from 400 to 700 older adults across the nation, Morning Stretch with Cas Castro is like their cup of coffee – there is no better way to start the day.
We spoke with Cas – who is undoubtedly one of the most familiar faces at Senior Planet from AARP, in addition to being one of our most recognized trainers by Senior Planet Supporters – all about his cross-discipline methodology and how he keeps things fresh day after day for hundreds of students.
Morning stretch is our most attended offering – what do you attribute the success to?
I sometimes say, “Morning stretch doesn’t take time – it gives you time.”
Everyone is struggling right now with stress, anxiety and all these uncertainties. So I started doing the program not only doing yoga stretches – I incorporated affirmations and meditation, scanning the body and observing. I got a little bit of this and that from different teachers. If you ask the participants, they’ll say Cas’s class is different every day – I think that’s been part of the success.
But we always close with the five universal principles which are: “Just for today I will let go of worry; just for today I will let go of anger; just for today I will work honestly; just for today I will be grateful; and just for today I will be kind to others.” People know it by heart now.
[Yoga] used to be too slow for me, I had to get older to appreciate the benefits.
What led you to becoming a fitness instructor?
I’ve been doing kung fu since the age of 16 – that was my first passion. Then I moved to Venezuela and I worked 23 years as a maritime agent for a shipping company. I don’t know why, but after work I was always doing something fitness related.
As I started getting older, I stepped back a little from kung fu because of the injuries involved in combat. So I started moving towards the more internal part – yoga and then tai chi. Then I started doing meditation. Every time it kept going slower, slower, slower. It used to be too slow for me, I had to get older to appreciate the benefits.
When I moved back to the States, I started teaching at the YMCA.
What draws you to being a teacher?
It’s in my horoscope aspects to be a teacher – it’s a tendency. Learn — and then teach.
Even when I did my first Communion, my mom had people over for breakfast to celebrate. I remember – I knew the whole ceremony the priest would do in church, so I turned my shirt around to make it look like a clerical collar, and I pretended to give mass to my friends.
Also, I learn a lot through my students. There’s a saying that when one teaches, two learn.
There’s a saying that when one teaches, two learn.
What does aging with attitude mean to you?
To have clarity of mind, be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Ha! I sound like a Boy scout.
Want to check out Morning Stretch or our other fitness programs? Click here to explore!
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Pam Hugi is Senior Planet’s Community and Advocacy Manager. Based in Brooklyn, she runs Senior Planet’s Supporter program in addition to being a contributing writer for this site. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cas is great teacher, did not know why he was playing disco until I learned he was a little older then me, it’s funny I thought I was older them him, lol He looks very young. Cas is from my old neighborhood in Far Rockaway, sadly we never met until I started taking the classes online. Would have enjoyed being one of his students at a younger age. I enjoy his fit fusion class and have done a little Tai chi also with him. He really cares about people and leads by example, thank you cas.
Great article to spotlight a wonderful teacher! I look forward to Morning Stretch and the group of friends that gather each day to connect before and after class. Cas brings us all together to start our day and provides balance of physical and mindful fitness. thank you Cas for your dedication and for hosting daily visits with the community!
My name is Aletta Seales. I have been watching Morning Stretch on Senior Planet for more than two years now. I participate at least four days a week in morning stretch with Cas. It is a great program and Cas is a wonderful teacher. He has knowledge, humor and empathy. I look forward to the daily program and enriching conversation after exercise!
Thank you, Cas for being such a intuitive and knowledgeable teacher. Because of Morning Stretch, I have been able to recover from my shoulder replacement surgery faster and in a less painful manner. Plus, introducing me to Meditation has been truly wonderful. Blessings and deep thanks for you!
Bravo to the best exercise instructor I have ever had. Cas is a marvel. I read the comments above and I can concur with them all. Cas brings something special to his students. As strange as it is to rely on a computer for exercise, the tech aspect enhances rather than distracts from the hour. His innate kindness and humanity shine through and we, his students are ever grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving Cas and to all of you.
Cas seamlessly creates the uniqueness of the class.
He is the opposite of the Gym teacher some of us grew up with. lol.
We have the best time ever in class! He teaches us things about the human body we did not know we needed to know.
I have read somewhere that the body needs to stretch daily and Motion is the Lotion. Cas imparts his wisdom and skills in movement, meditation and everyday well-being. The photo of him in Nature is so befitting.
Thank you Cas you are so appreciated
I echo all of the wonderful (and accurate) comments made about Cas Castro! I discovered Senior Planet during “Covid lockdown” and started with Cas’ Tai Chi class. I participate in Tai Chi and Fit Fusion weekly, and Dance Party when I can, but have recently added Morning Stretch to my daily routine. It’s truly a great way to start the day. Thank you Senior Planet for all of the programs and instructors, but especially for the gift of Cas and his remarkable commitment to improving our lives.
Cas is a great teacher of tai ch. He is patient, persistent, and encouraging.He does not lower his expectations because we are seniors. Even though it’s online he knows what movements we do wrong and how to correct it. Looking forward to advanced classes to continue learning more beautiful , relaxing and health promoting routines.
Cas inspires all of us with his teaching, encouragement, warmth, humor, and genuine care for everyone. Every day people thank him for their improved physical, mental, and emotional health. People say he saved their lives – literally. We are family. I have not missed one of his classes since I discovered Senior Planet more than a year ago. Not only his Morning and Afternoon Stretch, but Fit Fusion, Tai Chi, Holistic Wellness, and Meditation. Cas is a great blessing to all. Special beyond measure!
“Who dares to teach much never cease to learn.”
Cas should be twins. He is a treasure to Senior Planet.
I wanna thank all the members of Senior Planet for your kind words and support. Its truly gratifying to read all these wonderful stories. God bless you all with health, wealth and wisdom for year’s to come. Love & Light Cas
I have done 2 of Cas’s fit fusion classes and they are really good. However, both times I needed different equipment, I do not have room in my small condo for an at home gym (or even places to store much), so I would like to know what is essential equipment . So far I have a stick, weights, a stretch band. Also used (which I do not have) were a step stool and a pilates ring (had no idea what this is). Is there other equipment that is essential? Are the classes are repeated each week?
I find that Cas ‘s morning stretch class is great. Cas is very motivational. He has a
soothing voice when he start’s his morning stretch class. Cas is phenomental to me and awesome instructor. Cas continue doing what you love best. Fantastic Video
My husband and I participate in Morning Stretch every day, together. We have seen friends exercising and continue to spread the news about Cas and the program to many other “oldsters” like us. As a former YMCA exerciser and board member (our Y has unfortunately closed), I am delighted to learn that Cas started teaching there. As a former teacher and professor, I recognize great teaching. Every day we are better people, thanks to the program. Thanks!
Diane Yerkes, from S. California.
Love Morning Stretch with Cas. A few years ago, I had a couple of friends tell me about the class. I had a series of health challenges that was making it difficult and painful to move. This class has help me get moving again. I can not say enough about it. Mediation, varying types of movement, and an awesome teacher. I often recommend the class to others. Thanks Cas!
I am a Cas regular every morning – a wonderful way to start the day. Always interesting and varied. I’ve learned so much about a variety of Eastern approaches to wholeness. Also the stretches – particularly spinal twists and shoulder rotations – are really important – I have osteoarthritis.
I am a contributor and “recruiter.” I have told lots of friends about Senior Planet and particularly about Cas. Sally is also a favorite.
If the senior stretch class still being taught? If so when, is it on zoom, is there a cost? Thanks
Morning Stretch is still being taught 5 mornings a week on Zoom. Find it here It’s free!
I try to watch Morning Stretch every morning. Love your program Cas. I like the variety in your program. You make it fun and interesting. I can’t always do each exercise as i have some limits but i appreciate your patience and understanding for some of us who do the best we can.
Thank you Cas for all you do to make your class interesting and challenging
The mornings I take time to warm up, I have had arthritis for ages. Now, it seems I have breast cancer.It is important to keep moving. Cas is very pleasant, I really enjoy starting my day with him and his way of getting us going, gentle but very clear in all that he does. Thank you, Cas..
I enjoy Cas’s classes so much that I encouraged my sisters, one in Canada and one in the Caribbean to watch the classes on youtube. We are all having a blaze doing the excersise, stretches, and dance.
Cas is my Hero !! He gets me up & active each morning and helps the rest of my day to be great as a result of doing Morning Stretch ! When I have to miss because of an appointment or other commitment, it disrupts my day’s balance. I really really thank Cas with all my heart ! I also attend Fit Fusion & hate if I must miss. Fit Fusion & Morning Stretch are always my top priority of my days. And I’ve come to think of the other regulars as Family !! <3 I Love You Cas !! Susan – Florida
Cas really is an excellent teacher. I have attended many classes in my life and their routine is just that a routine. Cas brings an interest that keeps you coming back especially to his weekly Meditation session. I am so happy that I discovered this part of AARP.
After leaving a high stress engineering job for over 40 years.
I love Morning Stretch and if I miss it I try to catch Cas’ Afternoon Stretch.
I love opening and closing with meditation and the variety of movements and principles.
Cas was a Lifeline during year one of Covid! An excellent teacher, able to translate physical movement, breathing , mental and spiritual actions to all of us different people, cultures and abilities. Thank you Cas and keep on going!
I do Morning stretch with Cas most mornings just to get going for the day. I am so stiff when I first get up and need to stretch to get going . I feel so good after his class. The meditation and spiritual prayers also are a good start to the day.
Senior Planet has become an essential part of my day – the various classes, the instructors as well as the community of participants have enriched my senior life. Since Covid, I have not returned to any classes – thank you Senior Planet for being here!
I found Morning Stretch during the covid lockdowns too and have been enjoying it most every day and some afternoons ever since. It has helped to increase my flexibility and range of motion. It’s a great way to kick start the day and Cas keeps it interesting by varying the class everyday. He has a charming personality that makes class fun to do and the sense of community in the group is almost as important as the exercises. Stay after class and listen to the discussions.
Cas Class was a life saver for me during the first 2 years of Covid, when staying indoors, do miss it, but can now do U-Tube as well and Thankyou Cas and Senior Planet:))
Great Video of a wonderful life;)
Grace n Peace ~2All
Began Morning Stretch during the COVID 19 shut-in. A chance message via work e-mail a timely act of God. I sort this class due to work related stress tense muscles. Thus, working from home and an early break, here I am years later. I deem Mr. Castro my personal trainer, with a good heart and unexpected healing moves.
A missed class feels; graded absent. Keen to attend class, ask questions when in doubt and get an immediate response. Blessings – his other classes, teaching technique and songs.
I am loving the morning stretch with Cas and how it incorporates many types of fitness and relaxation practices. The group camaraderie is just super and there are so many participants who are also grateful. Thanks to Senior Planet and the teachers for keeping us moving and smiling!