Health and fitness are key components of “Successful Aging” — the philosophy followed by residents at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens. The fitness center is filled with residents using a variety of equipment on a daily basis.
For residents who prefer the feel of camaraderie, there are several group classes led by AJ Castillo. The fitness coordinator instructs group classes in the morning and one-on-one sessions in the afternoon.
In addition to being the fitness coordinator, Castillo coaches the varsity football team at Kingsburg High School — his alma mater from 2004 to 2008.
Handfuls of residents showed their appreciation for Castillo by surprising him with love and support at the varsity football game against Dinuba High School on Friday, Oct. 20.
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In addition to cheering for the Vikings, they waved banners that read “AJ rocks” “TSJG loves AJ” and “We love AJ.”
At the start of halftime, they walked onto the field to present Castillo with a gift — a T-shirt signed with their names.
“I had no idea,” Castillo says with a laugh. “I was so shocked.”
The 27-year-old athlete played a myriad of sports for the Vikings before attending Fresno City College and Humboldt State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science and health promotion.
Castillo was a personal trainer when he applied to be the fitness coordinator at TSJG about three years ago. Now, he says coming to work “doesn’t feel like work.”
“You learn so much from them — past experiences that they pass on to me,” Castillo says.
The biggest concern Castillo receives from residents is about balance, he says. He suggests performing the single-leg stance and the calf raise, as well as walking for 30 minutes each day.
“Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do,” he says. “Keeping your muscles strong is the key to maintaining your balance.”
Castillo doesn’t stop at group classes and one-on-one sessions at the fitness center — he strives to work with residents in the community. In September, he took a group of residents to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Fresno State.
Movement Matters — a month-long campaign started by Masterpiece Living, a multi-specialty group that partners with more than 80 organizations in order to maximize the potential of seniors — was recognized through the execution of several events in September.
TSJG is one of 16 organizations to earn the Center for Successful Aging Certification by Masterpiece Living.
Castillo also took a dozen of residents to the 2017 Kern County Senior Games in October. They competed in events like rock wall climbing, Wii bowling, softball pitch, and a 1-mile walk.
New on the agenda: TSJG is partnering with SilverSneakers (www.silversneakers.com), a fitness program for seniors who meet the requirements provided by dozens of insurance plans like Medicare.
“It’s never too late to start a fitness program,” Castillo says. “You have to start somewhere.”