Leisure centre assistant

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Peter Webb is a fitness instructor at a council-run pool and leisure centre. He started working out and swimming to get fit and lose weight, and soon turned his hobby into a career.

What do you do?

I spend most of my time working in the gym, helping people with their fitness programmes and making sure that they use gym equipment correctly and safely.

What does that involve?

When people join the gym I help them to fill in a basic health and safety form. I show them how to use each gym machine safely and correctly. For health and safety reasons, I must do this before they are allowed to start working out.

Once new members feel confident with the machines, I devise a fitness programme for them which is specifically tailored to fit their expectations. They might want to lose weight, build muscle, improve sporting performance or train for a special event like a marathon.

What else do you do?

I'm a qualified lifeguard, so I sometimes work at the pool in the leisure centre. Two of us cover the pool at all times.We scan our half of the pool every twenty seconds, watching out for hazards. If someone seems to be a weak swimmer and may get into difficulties, I ask them to move to the shallow end of the pool.

How do you cope with any rowdy behaviour?

If people are behaving boisterously and could cause problems for other swimmers, I tell them that unless their behaviour improves I will ask them to leave.

Most people respond if you are friendly and reasonable with them. If I see an object left by the side of the pool I move it and explain to the owner that it could cause someone to trip and fall.

Have you rescued anyone yet?

Yes, but only a few times, luckily.We take so many precautions to prevent problems that it is rare. When someone is in trouble I get them out of the pool as quickly as possible. Usually it is sufficient to hold out a pole or throw in a rope for them to grab, but if they are panicking I will jump into the pool and bring them out. I am trained in resuscitation techniques but I have never had to use them.

What skills do you need to become a leisure centre assistant?

You must like working with people. You should be friendly and open and prepared to answer questions on any aspect of health and fitness, including nutrition and diet.

You need to be observant. In the gym you must watch out for people who are using techniques which could injure them, or people who are having difficulties which could indicate a health problem.

What do you like most about your work?

I have the chance to chat to people and get to know them well. Many members have become personal friends. Helping people to lose weight and improve their fitness is very rewarding as it increases their self-confidence.

Peter's route to his leisure centre assistant job

  • GCSEs.
  • Lifeguard training.
  • National Pool Lifeguard qualification (NPLQ).
  • Started as fitness instructor.
  • NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Exercise and Fitness.

Peter's leisure centre assistant tips

  • Taking regular exercise will help you to understand the body and how it works.
  • Contact your local leisure centre and try to arrange work experience.

Leisure centre assistant related jobs

  • Holiday centre worker
  • Leisure centre manager
  • Pool/beach lifeguard
  • Receptionist
  • Sports coach
  • Individual Sportsperson
  • Team Sportsperson

Salary of a leisure centre assistant

  • Starting salary as a trainee is around £9,000, rising to £14,000 with experience and qualifications.
  • There is usually additional pay for overtime, shifts and weekend duties.

How to become a leisure centre assistant

  • There are no specified entry requirements to work in a leisure centre, but most local authority employers expect a minimum of GCSE/S grade passes in English and maths.
  • A first aid certificate can be an advantage.
  • If you want to specialise in a particular area such as a lifeguard or fitness instructor you will need a recognised qualification. A wide range of qualifications is available including S/NVQs and YMCA courses.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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