Without leisure centre assistants, your weekly trip to the gym, swimming pool or sauna simply wouldn’t be the same. These guys work as part of teams engaged in providing leisure, exercise and fitness services to the general public. Essentially, they are vital in making sure leisure and fitness centres are run as best they can be.
Typical employers include fitness centres which are administered by local government authorities, privately-owned leisure spas, hotels, resorts, institutions and health and fitness companies which operate as regional, national or international franchises.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be reporting to a leisure or fitness centre manager and carrying out a range of different duties across the whole of the centre.
You’ll be assisting with the promotion of recreational or fitness activities, completing administrative tasks set by the c manager and maintaining the gym equipment and facility areas.
Furthermore, you may be responsible for assisting with the organisation of birthday parties and other events, and handling customer queries over the telephone, in person and via email.
Understandably, health and safety is always of paramount importance in leisure and fitness centres. Consequently, you may be required to work as a lifeguard or provide basic first aid for customers in the case of emergency.
If you do take on these responsibilities, you will need to undergo additional first aid training and gain relevant qualifications.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for entry-level leisure centre assistants range between £13,000 and £19,000, while senior recreation assistants can earn up to £30,000 per year.
There’s also the huge benefits that getting involved within the leisure centre brings, such as free gym membership and the huge health benefits that go alongside that!
Work schedules tend to vary according to the business hours of the fitness centre. However, most employees tend to work shifts in accordance with a rota, which is drawn up by the fitness or leisure centre manager.
Consequently, early morning and evening work is common. Most recreation centres require all staff, including the centre manager, to wear uniforms.
While no minimum academic requirements are set in stone, a reasonable level of education is beneficial for securing an opportunity and developing a career in this area. A diploma or higher qualification in recreation management, business administration or sports science will be particularly advantageous if you have managerial aspirations over the course of a few years.
Previous work experience as a volunteer or employee in any leisure or sports facility is essential for entry into this profession. You’ll also be expected to meet high standards of personal health and fitness.
You may also be required to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service check before you can start working, to make sure you are suitable.
Training & progression
Initial training and development is usually facilitated through shadowing experienced colleagues and gaining hands-on practical experience.
Thereafter, professional development is mainly self-initiated, although some large companies may offer structured training programmes as part of their performance management process.
As you progress in your career, you will move into supervisory and managerial positions. If you stick it out for long enough, you may eventually advance into a fitness or leisure centre management role. Furthermore, you may even become the regional manager for a number of different facilities across a specific area.