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Leisure Centre Manager

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Leisure centre managers make sure that leisure centres run smoothly at all times.

Leisure centre managers are responsible for ensuring that the separate parts of a leisure centre work together effectively at all times. They work hard to provide excellent services to members of the public, and leisure centres certainly have an important part to play in the local community. From a relaxing yoga class to an energetic game of squash, leisure centres figure largely in many of our lives. However, they are also very complex and pressured environments and members of staff will need to remain focussed and alert at all times.

It is the responsibility of the leisure centre manager to make sure that all members of staff know how to perform their individual roles to the best of their abilities. Leisure centre managers make sure that the facilities are not only fun but also safe. They will also help with marketing and advertising in order to maximise profit within the local area.


Leisure centre managers who have recently acquired their position can expect to earn in the region of £14,000 to £25,000. After several years in the role, individuals should start to earn considerably more. Figures of up to £45,000 for experienced leisure centre managers are not unusual. The salary provided to senior leisure centre managers in large leisure centres (which may have facilities including dry ski slopes and even chain restaurants) may exceed this figure.

Leisure centres which attract an exclusive clientele and tend to be focused more upon health retreats rather than activities may also pay more than local leisure centres. Furthermore, additional benefits are a common feature of this role, with free membership to the leisure centre a real likelihood. Bonuses are also not unusual. These bonuses are often related directly to specific targets, such as the number of new members attracted every three months.


The typical tasks undertaken on a daily basis by a leisure centre manager will depend heavily upon the nature, size and location of the leisure centre. However, the following responsibilities are typical:

  • Drawing up activity programmes
  • Assessing which activity classes are performing badly and which are doing well and adapting the timetable appropriately
  • Organising advertising in the local area
  • Attracting new customers through special offers
  • Conducting market research
  • Recruiting staff according to need
  • Training staff
  • Disciplining staff
  • Organising staff and alerting them as to their duties and shifts
  • Dealing with complaints and general queries
  • Dealing with general feedback from members of the public
  • Drawing up budgets
  • Making sure that budgets are kept to at all times
  • Cutting back on expenditure if necessary
  • Cashing up and keeping financial records
  • Keeping records of stock and re-ordering if appropriate
  • Writing reports on the progress of the leisure centre
  • Liaising with other senior members of the leisure centre
  • Ensuring that health and safety regulations are met at all times


Very few individuals become leisure centre managers without holding degrees, usually in relevant subjects. These subjects may include sports agents, business studies, physiology and leisure management. Holding a relevant HND may also make you suitable for this role. Relevant HND subjects include sport and leisure management, recreation management, sports science, business, and travel and tourism studies.

It is possible to start working as a leisure centre manager without any qualifications, but the role is becoming increasingly competitive so you may be at a disadvantage if you do not hold one. Individuals who succeed without a qualification will usually have worked their way up from a minor position within a leisure centre to a more senior position through hard work and graft. You could try starting out as a receptionist, a leisure centre assistant or a personal trainer.


Leisure centre managers will need to possess the following skills in order to be successful in their role:

  • Good communication skills
  • Good interaction skills
  • Good customer service skills
  • Good numeracy and literacy skills
  • An interest in physical fitness, sports and activities
  • Good administrative skills
  • Good business knowledge
  • Good marketing skills
  • Good IT skills
  • Team-leading skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Creativity and flexibility
  • Motivational skills
  • Good presentation skills
  • The ability to work to a tight budget and stick to a tight deadline
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • The ability to take responsibility for their mistakes
  • The ability to communicate well with staff whilst administering disciplinary measures if necessary
  • Resilience and the ability to handle complaints in a tactful manner
  • An outgoing and approachable manner

Working Conditions

Leisure centre managers usually work on a shift basis, so evening and weekend work is not unusual. Many leisure centre managers work on a part-time basis. As a general rule, leisure centre managers will work for approximately thirty-seven hours per week and individuals will need to remain flexible since emergencies or special events could require additional work. Overseas travel is not particularly common and neither is travel throughout the UK. This should suit individuals who are not keen to stay away from home overnight.

Leisure centre managers spend a lot of their time working in an office environment but they will also need to make frequent checks on the many different sectors of the leisure centre. As such, the job can be physically demanding. It can also be stressful because leisure centre managers are the first contact point for customers who have complaints. Some leisure centres will want their manager to wear a uniform but many choose to wear conventional business attire.


Many employers in the leisure industry think that relevant experience is more important than qualifications. Experience does not have to be done specifically in a leisure centre. Previous experience in other environments including events organisation and marketing can also be useful. If you do not have any experience, try asking your local leisure centre for some work experience or the chance to shadow a relevant employee.


Major employers of leisure centre managers include:

  • Private health and fitness clubs
  • Corporate gyms and fitness centres
  • Local authorities
  • Health authorities
  • Universities which own gyms
  • Hotels which own gyms
  • Outdoor activity centres

Career Progression

Leisure centre managers looking for a change may choose to move to a leisure centre of a different size. Smaller leisure centres may place different demands on their manager. It is common for managers of smaller centres to be more involved with fitness classes, whilst managers of larger clubs focus more upon financial concerns and marketing.

Leisure centre managers after more of a challenge may choose to become regional managers, which will see them exerting their control over numerous clubs in the local area. Working as a leisure centre manager will also equip individuals with the skills needed to gain managerial positions in other environments, such as retail or restaurant management.

Also known as…

  • Fitness centre managers

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What’s it really like?

Tarzem has been working as a manager at a gymnasium for fifteen years. He became involved in the health and fitness industry after leaving school and managed to work his way up the career ladder through a combination of good luck and hard work.
Leisure Centre Manager

Tarzem is currently studying for an MBA, which he hopes will open doors to a senior management role at a more strategic level.

He particularly enjoys developing the fitness products and regimes offered by his fitness centre and he also likes the marketing side of his role. He finds it particularly rewarding trying to find ways to improve customer service, especially when this employs his creative and original side. However, Tarzem hates not being able to please each and every customer. It is very difficult to please every customer and this can be frustrating when the manager bears the brunt of complaints.

Tarzem believes that individuals hoping to become leisure centre managers should always ensure that they are offering the highest level of professionalism to their customers. It is also important to maintain high levels of integrity throughout the working day. Individuals who are not prepared to work hard should not bother trying to become leisure centre managers.

It is vital for potential applicants to be passionate about providing the best possible service at all times. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, since there are many restrictions placed upon large businesses. It is important for individuals to be creative and forward-thinking enough to overcome these boundaries and achieve long-term goals.

Tarzem had the following final words of wisdom for those hoping to become leisure centre managers. A former boss of his told him to always bear in mind the three ‘H’s: hustle, honesty and humour. It is vital to hustle to get the job done but it is also important to remain honest at all times since this helps to build trust and mutual respect between manager and customer. Humour is important since it will help to motivate staff and provides a welcome atmosphere to customers. Tarzem has followed the three ‘H’s throughout his career and has subsequently been very successful.

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