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Calling all inner healers
spa tech
Written by Patricia McCarthy

Spa Tech may be just the ticket

Spa Tech Institute founder and co-owner Nancy Risley started taking exceptional care of her body and mind after having a near-deadly case of hepatitis when she was just 13.

“I think when you have an experience like that, your life changes,” she says. “My interest became in my own recovery, and learning everything I could. I was always a person following my inner truth, always dedicated to my personal mission of just finding what makes it all work.”

In the 1960s, when Nancy wanted to delve more into holistic health options, there were slim U.S. pickings. “We didn’t even have massage licenses at that time in this country.” Open to everything, she studied nutrition in college and traveled to England and California to learn and eventually teach massage and polarity therapy (which balances energy flow in the body), channeling, astrology, meditation and more.

Sensing a “huge need” in this country, she created the Polarity Realization Institute in 1980 in Gloucester, Mass. That became Spa Tech in 2001, with its three locations in Massachusetts and one in Westbrook, Maine.

Its students now learn therapeutic massage, holistic massage, polarity, skincare esthetics, barbering, cosmetology and other subjects that are the continuation of Nancy’s pioneering explorations, including her 16- hour energy system clearing program called RYSE – Realizing Your Sublime Energies – that Spa Tech teaches three times a year.

Spa Tech’s students run the gamut – those who enroll right out of high school, grandparents following their passions, college graduates seeking something more satisfying, parents needing a career that’s both flexible and meaningful.

Most students have a few things in common – “it’s for everyone who feels they have an inner healer inside of them,” says Nancy.

And, adds Kris Stecker – who is Spa Tech’s president, a polarity therapist and Nancy’s husband – most students are seeking careers that let them be creative and directly help people.

Spa Tech training and employment are appealing to people in recovery from addictions, who typically learn the value of self care.

“We don’t go out and recruit people from the recovery community. But I think pretty much everybody who works with the company understands that we all are in recovery, whether we know it or not,” says Kris. “If we’re serious about our personal development and being more successful and authentic and living our potential, we all have things we have to deal with and grow from to get to another level in order to succeed in our lives.”

That’s perhaps never been truer than in 2020, with everyone confronting the challenges of pandemic restrictions, including

Spa Tech, which remained up and running throughout with classes online during the shutdown

With CDC restrictions and safety protocols in place and operating at limited capacity, some in- person, hands-on training is now happening again, with students masking and partnering as much as possible with just one other student.

Ability to train hands-on and gain muscle memory is limited, but many current students already have experience with that work and can acquire it on the job, Nancy says. And if a pending graduate doesn’t feel prepared,

Spa Tech always offers this: “If they finish and don’t feel ready, we give them a merit scholarship and give them free education so that they’re ready to roll.”

Getting back into the groove with new protocols is daunting, but new ways aren’t all bad.

“One of the things that’s been really interesting is that some students have actually done better online with assimilation of the theory,” notes Kris. “I think it’s partly that the medium has forced them to pay closer attention without the distraction of being able to sort of space out in the classroom. And they’re actually testing better. The hardest challenge we had when they returned to school was keeping them from running up and hugging each other because they are people people and they are all about touch!”

Adds Nancy: “Yeah, they like each other, seriously! I can speak for body work more than anything, but it’s sort of a soul group, you know? You get with other body workers who have that healing energy and you recognize it in each other. And maybe you haven’t seen a lot of that until you got to school.”

Helping students to feel empowered is a top priority. “We’re really in the business of not only giving people careers, but giving them the self-confidence to overcome doubts about their personal ability to succeed.” Kris says. “The biggest thing that holds people back is self doubt.”

Kris and Nancy both clearly love the work they do and its ripple effects.

“I love the students. I love the industry,” says Nancy. “Over 40 years ago, I was the only game in town. And now we have literally thousands and thousands of graduates. And our graduates don’t just touch one person. They change thousands of lives for the better. As the years go on, I just look at this and I’m blown away.”

Patricia McCarthy

Patricia McCarthy