Lily began her flexibility journey in 2009 while taking pole dancing classes. When she moved to San Francisco in 2011, she started taking contortion classes at several of the circus schools in the Bay Area, and when she moved to Los Angeles, she sought out Kristina Cañizares and Fit & Bendy, based on the recommendation of one of her instructors. Lily joined the Fit & Bendy team in 2015 as one of the first certified instructors and has helped many others in their flexibility training the same way that Fit & Bendy has helped her.
“When I first started taking contortion classes in San Francisco, I got a lot of guidance that I didn’t find very helpful. There was a lot of cajoling me to relax, which felt pretty hard to do considering I was trying to bend in half backward, and I dreaded the day that I might literally be pushed so hard that I would start crying as I had seen some other students do. I definitely felt like I had missed the flexibility train because I hadn’t been doing this since I was a kid.
That sentiment changed when I started taking classes from Kristina. Instead of the one-size-fits-all-must-bend-by-any-means-necessary approach, Kristina was equipped with the kinesthetic knowledge to emphasize active flexibility, which not only did my body happen to respond pretty well too, but is more useful in performance.
I think what sets Fit & Bendy apart is the combination of understanding how the body works and then applying it individually to each student that comes through the door. For instance, for years a middle split felt like jamming my legs into my hip sockets but no inner thigh stretch. It took a while, but Kristina finally figured out the combination of strengthening exercises and stretches to help me reach my goal. It’s taken years (with a baby thrown in there), but I can now do middle splits without having to give myself a 10-minute pep talk and lots of moaning and groaning. In fact, now I’ve got a pretty solid over middle split!”
Araceli is a lifelong mover. She danced competitively for five years, and performed as a professional aerialist for three years. Movement is integral to her sense of being alive, and she decided she wanted to share that joy by coaching healthy movement in others. She began coaching aerial arts and acrobatics for kids and young adults in 2014, then earned her BS in kinesiology and became certified as a personal trainer under NASM. She is currently finishing her Pilates certification through Balanced Body.
Araceli started training contortion with Kristina in 2015 and has been a dedicated bendy person ever since. She brings her wealth of movement experience and a deep passion for body mechanics to FaB. She is particularly interested in coaching functional flexibility for better quality of life.
Araceli and her husband run a gymnastics and martial arts studio in Orange County and when she isn’t moving and coaching she loves to be outdoors and gaze at beautiful sunsets.