Kristina became a flexibility coach after her own work healing herself from injury and illness.
While Kristina had always been flexible, she did not start training contortion until she was 31 – about 20 years behind the recommended age. Throughout most of her 20s she had struggled with serious health problems and dance and movement became an integral part of her healing. In contortion she found a physical practice that was as mentally and emotionally challenging as it was physically demanding. She fell in love with the way that flexibility training opens both body and mind.
For five years she trained with renowned Mongolian contortionist Serchmaa Byamba at San Francisco Circus Center. Despite her advanced age, she was able to perform a contortion table act both as a duet with Serchmaa and as a soloist. She accompanied Serchmaa to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to train and learn more about the history and traditions of this beautiful art form.
However the rigors of full-time training began to take their toll, and by 2010 Kristina was suffering from multiple injuries that made her unable to continue. Doctors told her that she would need surgery, and her contortion days were over. After so many years of battling physical limitations in her 20s Kristina was unable to accept this diagnosis and began searching for other options.
She discovered that the intense stretching had weakened her muscles and connective tissue, resulting in instability and pain. She began to work with a physical therapist to strengthen overstretched muscles and regain her strength. She earned her Pilates certification through Body Arts and Sciences and applied that knowledge to her own training. Within a year she was performing again, and actually able to achieve movements that had always been too difficult before.
This method formed the foundation for Fit & Bendy. Kristina found that the methods that helped her recovery also helped her flexibility students at Cirque School LA where she founded the contortion and flexibility programs. In 2013 Kristina released her first DVD, Gent Bent, and went into private practice. Since then she has taught thousands of students all over the world and has continued to expand her knowledge of the body, most recently by learning the targeted strengthening practice of Muscle Activation Technique.
Fit & Bendy Studios opened its doors on the east side of Los Angeles in August, 2018. It is a hub for Fit & Bendy’s flexibility revolution and a home to some of LA’s top instructors who share FaB’s commitment to honoring the body and making the most of the meat suit.
Natasha Wang, IPC Ultimate Champion 2014
“I’ve worked with many contortion and flexibility coaches in my travels around the world, and Kristina Neykia is by far the most knowledgeable and fun. As a certified Pilates instructor, she knows her stuff when it comes to body mechanics. She’s able to cue exactly where to lengthen, adjust, relax or engage in order to achieve the best and bendiest results, but always with a performer’s career longevity in mind, which I love.
She knows as dancers and movement teachers ourselves, our bodies are our bread and butter, and while we want results, we don’t want them to come at the risk of injury. Kristina’s approach is methodical, nurturing and very results-oriented, but safe. The fact that she’s funny, witty, has good taste in music and is cool is of course, a plus!”
Enver Gjokaj, Actor
“I came to Kristina after trying chiropractic, acupuncture and at least 5 physical therapists. But their goal seemed to be to mitigate pain, not solve the underlying problem. For years they had been squinting and guessing at what might be the problem with my shoulder. Within minutes, Kristina had put me through a couple exercises and had isolated the issue. I could see right away that she had both an intuitive and technical knowledge of the human body. I’m so relieved to finally be in sure hands.
I won’t lie, it has not been an easy road. I came to Kristina with years of injury and misuse exacerbated by weight lifting. But I stopped guessing and I started getting steady results. Now, about six months later, our slow and methodical base work is really beginning to bear fruit. Yes, I’m in better shape. But I can’t express how much better my body just works.”
Amy Tynan, Aerialist & Coach
“Too many people approach bendiness from a static stretching perspective and all it does is leave you stiff and achy. Kristina thoroughly warmed up our bodies and guided us through a full body bending session that left me feeling fluidly mobile and gooey. Her cues are golden and I she definitely has the power to make anyone feel like a rockstar bend-er.
Kristina has a magical way of presenting information. I have heard the “Shoulder Girdle Speech” a hundred times by a hundred different people and it never clicked so deeply as it did when she guided us through exercises in between lecture. I was able to make many new connections due to the unique content she presented and I could see so many light bulbs going off in my students heads. I’m so thankful to have taken this workshop from Kristina and excited for the possibilities that this level of information will open up.”
Scott Finman, Runner, Skier, and Fit Guy
“I have been working with Kristina weekly for upwards of a year now, with a particular focus on strength and mobility as they pertain to endurance running. After struggling with muscle imbalances and injuries for a long time, it’s my pleasure to be able to write a testimonial for the person responsible for getting me off that track, and well towards proper biomechanics, strength and athletic performance.
Kristina is, effectively, a physical therapist, podiatrist, personal trainer, Pilates and yoga instructor all wrapped into one. I’ve worked with upwards of a dozen well-qualified trainers and injury professionals around the world over the years, and Kristina’s attention to detail, knowledge of biomechanics, eye for correct form, and personal involvement in an athlete’s improvement have been second to none.
Working with Kristina via Skype has been remarkably effective; I’m always amazed at what tiny muscle twitches and subtle form errors she can spot over video. While I look forward to getting some studio time in with her in the future, working with Kristina over Skype is time very well spent.
Kristina is a true “biomechanics nerd”, always passing along helpful resources to me, and is humble enough to spend her own time researching the odd aches and pains I get and coming back with solutions unique to my training regimen.
I consider working with Kristina to be an essential requirement for any endurance athlete interested in staying proactive about injury prevention and increasing their economy of motion.
Apart from her knowledge and coaching ability, Kristina is a pleasant, easy-going, supportive, and enthusiastic person to spend time with.”
Ching Lee, 54-years-badass Competitive Pole Athlete
“In early 2014 I was preparing for my first pole competition. I was 52 and felt that I needed to be more flexible for the competition, so I started having private lessons with Kristina. She is very knowledgeable. She taught me the right way to stretch and how a strong muscle is important for flexibility. Her way of teaching is gentle but effective. I can see the improvements and never felt it was a torture to do flexibility training.
It’s been more then two years training with Kristina. I’m looking forward to continue the fit and bendy journey with her for a very long time.”