Lifestyle » Vol. 2

Steve Tankanow of Bancroft School of Massage

From Heart to Hands
By Linnea Sheldon

As a graduate of the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in 1975, Steve “Tank” Tankanow was drawn to the field’s unique ability to help people. Thirty-three years later, as the long-time President of the School, his passion for massage therapy continues. “I have operated the school since 1981,” he explained. “I have taken it through the process of attaining state licensure and federal accreditation, and we have won a number of educational awards.”

Under Tankanow’s guidance, the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy has come to be considered a benchmark in the field. “Massage is a joyful profession,” he explained. “It is my wish that all my students find joy throughout their time in school and as a professional.”

Steve “Tank” Tankanow

Born and raised in Worcester, 52 year old Tankanow spends much of his time giving back to the community. A longtime supporter of the Boys and Girl’s club, he has supported the organization’s boxing program for many years. He also has operated the Kids Café for Worcester, a soup kitchen that feeds children between the ages of 5 to 17. The kitchen just recently reached a milestone, serving their 150,000th meal.

Tankanow also owned a French restaurant named Antoinette in New Orleans. The restaurant opened about four years ago ~ but after H`urricane Katrina, it was forced to close.

Tankanow received a B.S. in Human Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts in 1977. He intended on becoming a nutritionist, working in third world countries to help alleviate hunger. He spent a year working in the Middle East, but he decided that massage was his true calling because he enjoyed the people, the caring, the kindness, and the uniqueness of the business. Throughout the course of his career, Tankanow has become increasingly passionate about teaching, enthusiastically sharing his skills and love of massage.

Students at the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy gain hands on experience at the school’s Wellness Clinic, where massage sessions are available to the public (by appointment only). The school’s services include Swedish massage, sports massage, neuromuscular and Asian massage. The student therapists also work with sports doctors as well as amateur and professional sports teams to promote massage as a way to prevent injuries and shorten recovery time.

In 2003, Tankanow, who has a passion for animals, expanded the school to include a Small Animal Massage Program. He believes the power of massage should be available to everyone, and he is dedicated to bringing massage even further into the mainstream.

“[It] is a very unique field, in that while helping people and animals with the power of our healing hands and a caring heart, we are also deriving positive energy from our clients,” Tankanow explained. “This helps us grow spiritually, physically and mentally.”

Steve at the Kids Café - Worcester, MA

Tankanow has worked as a massage therapist at health clubs, YMCAs, wellness centers and even Turkish baths. In his current position at the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy, he is in the office more than in therapy sessions, focused on teaching his students to become industry leaders. “The success of the school comes from some very basic philosophical principles: integrity, honesty, hard work, ethical principles, a positive attitude and a charitable heart,” he said.

He was recently appointed the Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Massage Therapy by the Governor. As the head of the Board of Registration, he oversees the licensure of all massage therapists, massage establishments and massage schools in the Commonwealth.

Tankanow is very excited about the future of the massage therapy field. “We live in a high-tech society and we need high-touch even more now,” he explained. “Touch is healthy, and is an important component of the human experience. A world devoid of touch will be a selfless and very stressful existence.”

The Bancroft School of Massage Therapy is located at 333 Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, (508) 757-7923 or toll free (866) 352-9409.

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