Leisure centre manager: job description

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

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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

Due to Covid-19, you may find it difficult to gain work or experience in leisure centre management at the moment. As we explain here, however, recruiters will not view time out of work due to the pandemic as a 'gap' in your CV. For guidance on searching for work during this difficult time, take a look at our advice for job hunting during a pandemic.

The specific duties and working environment of a leisure centre manager varies 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 in specialist publications including Leisure Management, Leisure Opportunities, Leisure Week (and their online equivalents) 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.

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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