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Leisure centre managers are responsible for every aspect of the day-to-day management of centres dedicated to sports, leisure, health and fitness.

They need to be well organised and able to lead and motivate a team.

What does a leisure centre manager do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Specific duties and the amount of customer or staff contact vary according to the size of employer: managers in larger organisations may be mostly office based, whereas those employed by smaller establishments often have frequent contact with customers, suppliers and employees.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • recruiting, training and supervising staff
  • managing budgets
  • organising fitness activities or programmes
  • maintaining statistical and financial records
  • developing new facilities
  • promoting and marketing the business
  • ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation
  • maintaining customer service standards
  • dealing with enquiries, complaints and emergencies.

Promotional opportunities are generally best for employees who are willing or able to change employment sector or job location.

Typical employers for leisure centre managers

  • Local authorities
  • Commercial organisations
  • Hotel and leisure groups
  • Educational institutions
  • Company fitness centres

Vacancies attract strong competition. Opportunities are advertised online and in local, regional and national newspapers, specialist publications including Leisure Management, Leisure Opportunities, Leisure Week and vacancy lists produced by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). Several specialist recruitment agencies also advertise opportunities.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this career for both university graduates and school leavers.

Employers often prefer graduates with relevant qualifications in subjects such as management, sports science, recreation, health management, physiotherapy, business or leisure studies. A postgraduate qualification can be useful for graduates without appropriate degrees.

It is essential to possess relevant experience, possibly gained via part-time or seasonal work, or by working as a fitness instructor, leisure centre attendant or recreation assistant.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leave route, visit the hospitality and travel section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for leisure centre managers

  • Commercial awareness
  • Physical fitness (or at least an interest in fitness and sport)
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork and leadership skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Administrative and cash management skills

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