Fresno State alumnus A.J. Lacuesta will ‘move’ you

Photo courtesy of Sarah Deleon

A group exercise instructor, veteran, fitness program director and choreographer walk onto campus. What do they all have in common?

They are the same person.

Meet A.J. Lacuesta: a man who does it all and still has time to fundraise for charity.

As a Fresno State alumnus, Lacuesta works at Kids Moving Inc., a fitness organization that sends Lacuesta to schools to coordinate dance and fitness classes for students ranging from preschoolers to eighth graders.

Along with getting kids moving and grooving, he also teaches fitness classes for adults. Lacuesta said kids are taught in the morning while the adults and parents have their classes in the afternoon.

Currently, Lacuesta is at West Fresno Middle School, where the program is funded through a grant. He said this all began when he was a student at Fresno State and worked for the Student Recreation Center on campus.

“I became a group fitness instructor,” Lacuesta said. “I started with dance first, and that’s how it all started.” Later, he began leading the fitness classes himself.

When he was a student fitness instructor at the university, he enjoyed seeing people of all majors, interests and backgrounds come together to enjoy each other’s company and live an active lifestyle.

Lacuesta said, “You wouldn’t think an engineer would dance with an art major.”

Lacuesta’s Midnight Dance Team recently performed at the Aid 4 Aleppo fundraiser, in which they raised over $1,000. All of the proceeds were donated to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Syria Humanitarian Fund.

“We used what we do best, our dance,” Lacuesta said.

The inspiration came from Lacuesta wanting to contribute toward the relief of suffering in Aleppo and Syria.

“Most people don’t think about it. There are refugees that come into America, and they are away from their families. They are away from their homes,” Lacuesta said.

Besides using dance as a way of fitness or fundraising, Lacuesta also choreographs flash mobs to bring “togetherness” to the community.

Lacuesta partnered with Get Fit Clovis to coordinate a flash mob to Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller” around Halloween time last year at Woodward Park, Fresno State and Sierra Vista Mall – all in one day.

The “Thriller” flash mob had kids and people outside of Fresno participating. What impressed Lacuesta the most was that “they didn’t know each other at all,” and they still came together for one purpose.

Lacuesta is most recently recognized for choreographing and organizing the video of a surprise flash mob proposal at Riverpark shopping center.

He said he loves “any event where I get people that don’t usually dance together.”

The dance classes that Lacuesta holds at West Fresno Middle School are not limited to students of that middle school. Anyone who wants to get involved, can simply show up.

Lacuesta said what he does is a labor of love.

“Most of the stuff I just do for free. Just seeing people smile — I always get people who say, ‘I would have never done this if you hadn’t done this event,’” Lacuesta said.

The fitness classes benefit both youth and adults as well. A parent of a 40-year-old woman who Lacuesta met three months ago, approached him to express how her daughter looks forward to his dance classes. Her mother also explained that her daughter had not often worked out until his class.

Not only do others benefit from Lacuesta’s dancing abilities, he himself finds dance as a way of escape.

“When I was growing up, I was really shy. People from high school and middle school, they were surprised today that I’m doing all this,” Lacuesta said. “I pretty much live by dance,” he said. “Dance is a big thing for me.”

When asked about the emotions he feels when dancing, he said, “Freedom, happiness, getting lost in a different world.”

Lacuesta plans to do more events like Aid 4 Aleppo and encourages those who want to participate to contact him at aurellacuesta@gmail.com.

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