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.
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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 email@example.com.