Instructors

Our instructors have been trained to put your safety and well-being first, and understand that there’s nothing more important than our students. Beginner, advanced, and anywhere in-between, we personally assist with your alignment to prevent injuries and assure you’re getting the most out of every pose, every posture, and every class. Jacaranda is for everybody & every body.

Aaron Dickerson (RYT-200 Certified)

Aaron is a veteran of the U.S. Army. What he offers through his classes is a way of developing a personal practice that can be taken anywhere, and can accommodate any lifestyle. After more than 20 years of practice in Muay Thai, and a stint in the U.S. Army, Aaron began to investigate yoga as a home workout that would be compatible with his irregular work hours as a welder. In researching the history of yoga, he saw potential in what cultivating a daily yoga practice might do for him physically and mentally. After successfully quitting smoking, yoga helped him regain his breath and repair his body and mind. The personal practice that he has developed over the past few years and what he passes on to students relies heavily on Ashtanga-inspired sequencing. Earning his RYT-200 at Tapas Yoga Shala in 2015, Aaron continues to study the history and tradition of yoga both on and off the mat, and hopes to help make yoga accessible to anyone of any background.

Dr. Anton (TJ) Grasch (RYT-200 Certified)

TJ is a Family Physician who has always appreciated yoga for its holistic view of health and well-being. His classes aim to be accessible to all skill levels while still creating an environment for growth regardless of yoga experience. His yoga is influenced by Somatics, Qigong and Restorative.

“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.” -Dalai Lama

Janie Backs (RYT-500 Certified)

Janie started practicing yoga while she was in college, at a point in her life when she needed it the most. Stating “I was in a place where I wasn’t happy with myself, in every form of the phrase, and my world around me mirrored that”. After consistent practice she noticed a significant, positive, and tangible shift. Her decisions become more clear, positive, and aligned. Feeling as if she was really living and moving in this world, not just watching it go by. Janie practices yoga to become the best possible version of herself. She teaches to help every single one of her students to do the same. Janie began teaching in 2015 and quickly found it to be her passion. Starting her teaching journey in Columbia Missouri, then St. Louis Missouri—all the way to Barcelona Spain and around Europe. Now, she’s back in the mid-west to teach you! Her classes are fitness and wellness based. They are suited for the beginner yogi and the experienced yogi. All classes focus on breathwork, strength, flexibility, and balance. Moreover, she teaches these classes for you, her students. Her teaching style focuses on the students wants and needs, not her own. Janie says “I teach to help you become the best version of yourself, to learn how to breathe, find gratitude, grace, and love in the midst of the most uncomfortable situations”.

Sydney Daniels (AFAA Certified)

Sydney is 23 years old and a recent graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Psychology and currently works full-time for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She loves to work in two fields that she’s passionate about—wellness and nonprofit work. She’s taught group fitness for 4 years while in college and focused on strength- and cardio-based classes. Sydney says “Teaching Malibu Barre has become a personal favorite for me. I’m so excited to be a part of the Jacaranda team”!

Olivia Svymbersky (In Training Instructor)

Olivia is 22 years old and was born and raised in Peoria. Proud alumni of Bradley University where she studied business and marketing. Her personal practice with yoga has extended for about four years and has completely ignited a passion inside of her. Being conscious of her overall wellbeing and personal health—She knew she’d love teaching group fitness. “I’m beyond excited to share this passion with our Jacaranda family and help everyone be more mindful of what our bodies are capable of”!

Summer Tharp (AFAA Certified)

Summer is 21 years old—born and raised in Peoria, Illinois. She studied at Columbia College in Chicago because of her passion for dance. Her main focus is ballet, modern/contemporary; however, she has a deep loves/passion for yoga and meditation. Combining her love of movement, she’s currently working to become an Occupational Therapist in the hopes to help the world around her in new, artistic ways. She likes introducing new ideas and being a forward thinker. She says “I am so blessed for my opportunity to be teaching group fitness at Jacaranda. I am eager to share the importance of healthy living, and provide the tools to do so”!

Rebekah Baer (AFAA Certified)

Born and raised in Tremont, Illinois she kicked off her passion for teaching fitness classes while living in Chicago. Graduating from Loyola University Chicago, with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Business Administration. Rebekah’s spent three years teaching a wide variety of freestyle classes at a handful of gyms in Illinois. After moving back to the Peoria area, she’s added a few Les Mills certifications in addition to her freestyle formats. She loves the accountability and community that fitness classes offer as well as helping people find joy and passion in taking care of their bodies - both mentally and physically. When she’s not teaching classes, or going for a run, she’s busy operating a baking business out of my house, baking cupcakes, cheesecakes and cookies. Rebekah says, “Life’s all about balance and I’m thrilled to be able to bring my love for fitness to Jacaranda”!