Instructors & Staff

Meet the professional instructors who teach you to fly…

Tory Jenis

Tory Jenis

Owner, Yoga, Pilates, BB Barre & Paddlefit Instructor

Tory has always been interested in exercise and has taught numerous forms of movement since her teenage years ranging from aerobics and weightlifting to downhill skiing. Tory is certified through Power Pilates and is proud of her training. She truly believes that the certification is only the foundation of her knowledge and therefore travels to NY often for educational conferences. Many of the senior teachers at Power Pilates trained in the heart of the Pilates development. Tory is thrilled to bring that knowledge back to Blackbird and share it with the community. 

Tory is a registered nurse, Baptiste Certified Yoga Instructor, Power Pilates Certified Instructor, and BB Barre Instructor .  Tory teaches PRIVATES, semi privates and group classes.

Tory loves to cook, garden and ski.

Tory’s belief in Yoga comes from following the system and the experience of seeing the system transform not only her body and mind but those of her community.

Zainab Zakari, E-RYT 200, RYT 500

Zainab Zakari, E-RYT 200, RYT 500

Yoga Instructor

Zainab has been teaching yoga since 2007, and she currently teaches all levels of Vinyasa Flow in and around Ithaca, NY. Her classes feature several styles & traditions including Prana Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga, & Viniyoga, and they bring attention to anatomy, alignment and movement. She enjoys the mindfulness, physical awareness and playful adventure one can find in yoga and strives to integrate these elements, along with humor and kindness, into her classes. Zainab has happily studied with and is eternally grateful to Prana Vinyasa Flow founder Shiva Rea and the Prana Flow tribe in addition to her foundational teachers Lisa Bennett Matkin and Charles Matkin. Zainab is an E-RYT 200 certified instructor and is 300 hr-certified in Prana Vinyasa Flow. She remains a student of life and has also published writings in media, including DoYouYoga.com, Fit Yoga, Women’s eNews, Zink, & Living MySore, a former online magazine.

Cassie Jenis

Cassie Jenis

Yoga & BB Barre Instructor

Cassie was introduced to yoga early in middle school when she started taking classes with her mom, studio owner Tory Jenis. The love of yoga, however, didn’t stick until high school, when she was mature enough to understand the intricacies of the discipline. Having completed the first and second levels of training with Baron Baptiste and her 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification, she is attacking the study of yoga with passion.

Cassie completed her BB Barre training last February and has been teaching Barre since Fall 2013.

In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her dogs, Peppermint and Patty, reading anything she can get her hands on, and painting.

Sharon-Kaye Hector

Sharon-Kaye Hector

Yoga Instructor

The first time I ever did a yoga class was about 18 years ago when I was training to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I was blown away by the 70 years young Viniyoga instructor whose flexibility was just awe inspiring. I have since then dedicated myself to health and wellness, working out and training myself and others. Fast forward 15 years when I injured myself lifting weights. I decided to do more yoga especially since it was helpful a few years ago pre-the-lastest-set-of-injuries. So I hobbled into a local yoga studio and it felt like coming home. Yoga is just….flipping awesome! It feels so wonderful in my mind and in my body. Never one to half step, I went ahead and did teacher training to became a 200 hour RYT.

I have been granted the opportunity to work with some fantastic teachers including over the years who have taught me how wonderful a place of refuge my mat is. So now, I pay it forward by guiding my fellow yogis into that place of peace and refuge on their mats.

Peace and blessings and look forward to seeing you!

Michelle Bertoni

Michelle Bertoni

Yoga Instructor

Michelle has always been interested in fitness. She was a runner throughout high school and was part of the track team. She continued onto college and graduated with an associates degree in health and fitness. Four years ago Michelle fell very ill and was out of work for almost a year. This is when she found yoga. She needed some sort of exercise in her life, so she started with just ten minutes a day. Once she got better she took her first official class. She chose the hardest class available! She instantly loved it and knew this was her passion and calling. Immediately, she began taking the steps to become a teacher at her hometown studio in Binghamton. She completed level one and level two assistant workshops at the studio,and began assisting in classes regularly. Soon she went on to Baptiste level one teacher training in Sedona Arizona. After coteaching for 4 months she earned her spot as a teacher. Michelle teaches multiple classes a week in Binghamton such as all levels hot and power hours. She is very excited to teach here at blackbird. She is AED/CPR certified and plans to attend level two in Sedona to complete her 200hour certification.
Michelle enjoys cooking and baking vegan food! She also spends her time painting, exercising, hiking, relaxing by the ocean and loves being outdoors.
In Michelle’s classes you will get a full body workout. Create proper alignment and use your breath to flow through each pose!

Kendra Bartell

Kendra Bartell

Yoga Instructor

Kendra got her start in yoga while an undergrad at Cornell (with fellow birdie Emma Silverman!), deepening her practice when she moved to Seattle in 2012. She completed her 200 hour training with Jamie Silverstein at her studio, The Grinning Yogi, studying vinyasa flow. She loves the way yoga allows for a quieting of the mind and a connection between breath and body. Off the mat, Kendra loves trying out new recipes in the kitchen, reading and writing poetry, and exploring the great outdoors with her pup.

Sarena Lynch

Sarena Lynch

Barre Instructor

Sarena started dancing at the age of 3 and was put in a couple of classes a week just to give her parents a break. The hour or so after school was the perfect outlet for her energy before returning home to her family. She quickly got addicted to this outlet and continued dancing competitively until she graduated from high school. Looking for that feeling of community and consistency that she felt in weekly dance classes, Sarena started attending Blackbird in the summer of 2012. After taking a couple years off from dancing, Sarena was attracted to the ballet influence of a barre class. She was immediately hooked after she experienced the intense soreness of a tough first class. The classes made her feel stronger physically and mentally in addition to sparking an interest in physical fitness. She enjoyed combining barre and yoga classes throughout the summer, every summer until she graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014. She attended over a hundred classes a year at the Pure Barre studio in Virginia but still missed the special connection she had to the unique style of Blackbird classes. Once she moved back to Ithaca in 2014, she restarted her barre and yoga class class habit until she began her BB Barre training in March. Her experience with teaching has allowed her to connect with barre in a different way and has strengthened her obsession with the practice. She hopes to inspires other to share the same connection with this challenging class.
Sarena currently works in Cornell’s Alumni Affairs and Development division and enjoys reading and baking in her free time. She spends much of her time trying new types of exercise, volunteering at local non-profits and spending time with friends.

Leslie Rosemann

Leslie Rosemann

Yoga & Pilates Instructor

Leslie enjoys her private practice Embody Massage and Pilates of 15 years at 522 West State St in downtown Ithaca, where she incorporates a variety of massage techniques and teaches private pilates sessions. She is always interested in pursuing new avenues in her healing practice including Trager training, Acupressure, Hot Stone Therapy and constantly continuing her education and growth as a practitioner. Upon using pilates for her own wellness and healing program, and recommending this training to her clients, she decided to pursue the pilates training with PACNY graduating the 750 hour program and receiving her PATTI certification. She chose the contemporary training because of it’s focus on anatomical and postural guidelines, and the incorporation of physical therapy techniques and sports rehab was complimentary to her massage training. Leslie has superior knowledge of the body from her massage practice which extends to her pilates practice. With an eye and understanding of the muscular and skeletal systems of the body, she is able to understand and create an effective program for balancing, strengthening, and toning each individual’s body. She uses her combined knowledge to help clients create body awareness. She uses this Holistic approach to pilates therapy looking at it from many angles to help create understanding and balance for each client. Leslie teaches a well balanced style of pilates offering classes that are a combination of fitness, technical elements, and creative. “Educating my clients is very important to me. I feel you get a better workout when you understand why you’re doing a specific exercise. In my class you’ll learn about your body and have a great workout. My goal is to teach ina way that my students will take pilates into their daily lives. The satisfaction of helping others is something I love about my work.”

Leslie is a NYS licensed massage therapist since 2001, certified Aromatherapist , has practiced many styles of yoga for 20+ years.
She has been teaching private and group pilates since 2008 and is always researching and learning to further her education and understanding.
Other trainings includes Trager bodywork,Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage, Hot Stone Therapy, Orthopedic core pelvic stabilization massage.

 Lily Twining

Lily Twining

Barre Instructor

Lily spent much of formative fitness years in a freezer training as a competitive figure skater with ballet, pilates, and conditioning on the side. In college, she spent a year rowing on the Yale women’s crew team, picked up running, and became more serious about pilates and dance. Lily first tried barre in New Haven at Sarah Aldrich pilates with Ithaca area-native Torrie Hanley and was thrilled to find a studio with barre classes in when she moved to Ithaca for grad school. After three years of endorphin addiction at Blackbird, she decided to share her love of barre with others by becoming an instructor under Tory Jenis’s training. Lily’s favorite thing about barre is that while it gets easier, it never gets easy because there are always new ways to further challenge yourself.

Outside of the studio, Lily is a PhD candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell. She also dances at Ballet Center of Ithaca, teaches PE figure skating, and is a member of the club figure skating team at Cornell. When not exercising or conducting research, Lily enjoys renovating her house, gardening, baking, cuddling with dogs, and spending time with family.

Erica Vetra

Erica Vetra

Yoga Instructor

My yoga practice began here in Ithaca, New York. For several years I lived abroad, floating from Italy to Spain, to Mexico, back to Italy, then to Thailand, incorporating yoga into my travels and life rhythm. I enjoyed the constant evolution of my practice as a student as it took me deeper into my yoga journey. While living in Rome I began teaching Vinyasa yoga, and continued as a Vinyasa teacher in Austin, Texas for the next six years. My classes guide you through challenging poses and deep breathing, encouraging you to find your own voice. As an instructor I hope to help you cultivate love, courage, and true strength both on and off your mat.