Andy Jones shares what it takes to be a Centre Manager
Since 2009, the fitness industry has grown its total market value by 2.4% (State of the UK Fitness Industry report, Leisure Database Company), and in 2012 15.5 million adults participated in at least one 30 minute sport activity each week (Sport England Active Survey 2011-12).
Andy Jones is Centre Manager at The Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath – operated by not-for-profit leisure operator Freedom Leisure.
• What made you want to work in the fitness industry?
“I worked as a casino manager for several years and fancied a career change. Sport and fitness has always been a passion of mine and I felt I had the personal qualities required to succeed in the industry, so I made the transition when I moved to England. I started off as Centre Manager at Crowborough Leisure Centre and haven’t looked back since.”
• How did you go about making the career switch?
“I applied for the position and was offered the job even though I hadn’t worked in the industry before. As a result, I completed most of my training on the job including First Aid at Work, Pool Plant Operators and level one, two and three fitness qualifications. I think it’s important to keep learning and enhancing your knowledge so you have a well-rounded understanding of your chosen field.”
• What qualities do you think make a good centre manager?
“Being approachable and personable. In the fitness industry you’re constantly working with people so it’s imperative that you can communicate well with staff and customers. As a centre manager you should also have strong leadership skills so you can manage people effectively and ensure the centre runs smoothly. Prioritisation is another key trait as there can be a lot going on at once and you need to be able to identify what’s most urgent.”
• What does your typical day consist of?
“I spend around 70% of my day walking around the centre, speaking to staff and customers and checking everything is running efficiently. The other 30% of my day is spent in the office checking emails and writing reports. I also meet with the managerial team once a day and squeeze in a workout whenever possible.”
• What’s the best part of your working day?
“I enjoy interacting with the customers and being part of their journey to a healthier lifestyle. Although I don’t get the opportunity to train many clients, I’m still indirectly involved with their progress through the other trainers at the Centre. It’s rewarding when a customer sees the effects of regular exercise and achieves something they never thought they would.”
• What’s the worst part of your working day?
“Without a doubt I find paperwork and admin jobs are the worst part of my job! Sometimes I struggle with early mornings too.”
• What inspired you to qualify as PT?
“I’ve been interested in fitness since a young age and I wanted to learn how to train myself more effectively. I was also keen to expand my knowledge of the industry as a whole so I could better manage the fitness staff.”
• Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of becoming a Centre Manager?
“I think you have to be really passionate about your job to be a Centre Manager so make sure you’re committed to a career in the sector and that you have the appropriate skills. Jobs in the fitness industry are not 9-5 so you need to be prepared for this. You also need to be a genuine ‘people person’ as you’re constantly dealing with customers and managing staff.”