Headshot of Leah Keisler

My experience with the Gym Assistant Programme: a part-time job with a difference

Thank you to Leah Keisler, first year Applied Sports Science student, for sharing her excellent insight into her student employment experience as a Gym Assistant at the Pleasance Sports Complex and Gym and the impression the programme has made on her…

Hi Leah, when did your passion for sport begin?

I am 19 years old and from a small town in Scotland, called Biggar. My life has truly evolved around sport from the get-go, with sport (running) first being introduced to me at the age of eight years old. Sport soon became my key passion in life as I continued my athletics journey as a track athlete at the age of 10 years old. Since then, I have never looked back, with my passion for sport continuing to grow daily thanks to the overwhelming support provided to me by both my parents. I now currently stand as a proud 400m/400mH athlete, happier and stronger than ever! Through the ignited pleasure and enjoyment that sport has blessed me with, I have always dreamt of working within the sporting industry. Thus, coming out of high school, I decided to utilise my fascination towards sport and apply to the University of Edinburgh to study Applied Sports Science.

I specifically chose the University of Edinburgh due to the ample sporting facilities and support that the University has to offer, helping to support both my academic studies and my journey as an athlete. I have just finished my first year of university, where I will continue my journey as a second year Sports Science student come September.

What prompted you to apply for the Gym Assistant Programme and what were you hoping to gain from this experience?

Throughout my first year at university, I grasped the privilege of working at the Pleasance Sport Complex and Gym as a part-time Gym Assistant. I found out about the programme through its advertisement via Facebook, on behalf of BSc Applied Sports Science at the University.

Instantaneously, I was drawn to the programme as I knew the job would help support my studies and sport, both financially and academically. Subsequently, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of working alongside one of the best facility and fitness providers in the UK. Through applying for the role, I hoped the job would enhance my confidence and awareness, as well as enabling me to acknowledge the sporting environment outwith just running. Additionally, I hoped the job would permit me with the freedom to meet new people and develop friendships, helping ease my transition into a new city. It’s fair to say, the programme has gone far beyond my expectations!

Tell us a bit about your role.

The programme granted me with a set eight-hour contract; from which I was able to dictate my availability times to fit the hours around both my studies and training efficiently. The role involves a plethora of duties which include:

  • making sure the gym floor is both hygienically safe and hazard free to optimise customer safety
  • supplying assistance and guidance when and where required
  • targeting inclusion by ensuring all gym members feel welcomed and at ease when working out
  • providing encouragement to all gym members to achieve their fitness aspirations

These duties are all uniquely designed and implemented to help the gym promote the importance of Active Health across the community as well as assisting the Pleasance gym in achieving and sustaining their three main values: Open to Everybody’, believing that ‘Anything is Possible’, and ‘Enabling Excellence’.

What skills and knowledge have you gained from the programme?

The programme has amplified my awareness and knowledge of the gym environment through the vast range of courses available to me: scoping from Mental Health Awareness training through Microsoft Teams to an in-person Eleiko Strength Coach (Level 1) course. It’s fair to say, I took full advantage of every course that was on offer to me.

Each course provided me with a new perspective and source of knowledge of Sport and Exercise, from both physical and mental domains. The knowledge and skills I gained through these courses has helped expand my openness and awareness when on the gym floor as well as enabling me to utilise these skills to my own advantage as an athlete.

However, the programme opportunities do not stop there! The programme has seen me through my Gym Instructor (Level 2) course, where I achieved the certified qualification: I am now one step closer to achieving my Level 3 (Personal Trainer) qualification. Therefore, not only does the programme provide financial and educational support, but it also grants you with lifelong qualifications which can help further support and expand your future job success.

The Gym Assistant Programme has truly been an amazing experience, one that I cannot praise or thank the team at Sport & Exercise enough for. Thanks to the support and the opportunities brought about by the programme, I have also been able to meet some truly amazing and inspirational people, making lifelong friendships as well as transforming into a much more confident and knowledgeable sportsperson.

Reflecting back to when I first applied for the role, I thought my chances of getting the job were very limited due to there being an array of much older, more experienced candidates. However, with the encouragement I received from all gym team members and staff, I felt equally as worthy and capable as everyone else, with their belief and support continuing to support me in becoming a better version of myself to date.

What are your top tips for future students considering taking part in the Gym Assistant Programme?

Embrace the opportunity given to you, BE YOURSELF and have fun!!! The Gym Assistant Programme is by far the most enjoyable and entertaining, as well as rewarding job opportunity I have been blessed with, so don’t turn it down. With working in a multi-complex, success striven organisation, it may seem quite daunting at first: trust me I know. However, if I can promise you something it would be that with the collective, diverse, and supportive team at Sport & Exercise, you are provided with all the assistance and encouragement you require to aid your development in the role.

Parting advice…

So…. if you are going to take something away from this blog it is to trust me! Take up the opportunity whilst you can because I promise you, you won’t regret it 🙂

Has this blog post sparked your interest in health and fitness? If so, view our recent wellbeing related blog from Lucy Smith, Active Lives Coordinator at the University of Edinburgh Sport & Exercise on  How to kick-start your health and fitness.





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