Meet our members: Diane Leek

Diane Leek Spin Instructor


Individuals who are passionate, professional and competent drive the success and growth of our sector. Through sport or physical activity, they inspire and enable our nation to be active. In CIMSPA’s pursuit to showcase the excellence of the sport and physical activity sector’s workforce we present CIMSPA’s ‘Meet the Member’ blogs. Through a variety of interviews with CIMSPA members we want to highlight the different career avenues available in our sector and show just how diverse in experience our workforce really is.

In this instalement we introduce Diane Leek, a passionate group exercise instructor with extensive experience in the sport and physical activity sector. We had a great time chatting to Diane about her background, career so far and how she thinks being a CIMSPA member affects her future in the sector.

Could you briefly outline your background and current role?

I started in the fitness industry in 1982. I was always into sport in school, loved competitive sport and wanted to do something in that area. I started working in the sector when I saw a local job for a community project to help encourage other people to be active. The sector was very different back then as the regulation was very minimal and you did not need a recognised qualification to practice.

I began classes at my local leisure centre with the focus really being on encouraging the community to get moving. Funnily enough, the message hasn’t changed much. Since doing my exercise to music qualification in the 80’s I went on every course I could possibly go on and continued my development and my education within the fitness industry. Over the years I've done everything from ETM, gym, weights based classes, body conditioning, spin, step, Fit Steps, Zumba formats, Pilates, yoga, and my own free-style creations. I then branched out into special populations, older adults, pre and postnatal GP referrals, exercise for people with mental health issues, exercise for people with disabilities and cardiac rehab.

I still teach today and enjoy a real variety of classes, but I am also now a mentor and learner assessor across various qualifications. Although I did go into management for a brief period, I found my heart wasn’t in it so I now focus on teaching, training and mentoring.

Why is it important that our sector’s workforce is easily recognised for their experience, skills, and knowledge?

We have an ageing population, we have rising incidence of obesity in adults and children, increasing mental health issues and then most presently there is the impact of COVID-19. Physical activity can positively impact all of these situations. It’s not just necessarily about going to the gym, it could be going to classes, it could be an outdoor workout, it could be participating in sport, it could be coaching and so much more. All of it can help people in these situations.

So to have our expertise, skills and knowledge recognised is of paramount importance because we’re ready to help and ready to do something about those issues. Most of us have years of experience in the industry. The skills you pick up as you go aren’t just about being able to coach somebody day-in and day-out. It’s about all of those small things that help you to connect with people whilst being professional and competent in your role.

What does it mean to be part of the sector’s only Chartered Institute?

Before CIMSPA, I was always a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) because I felt it was important to be part of a membership organisation that focused on representing our workforce and our sector as a profession. It is all about being recognised for a level of standard and competencies. The fact it has helped me to be deployable in the sector and gives customers, participants, employees, clients, and colleagues confidence in your skills is invaluable.

It gives you a sense of confidence because you are part of a professional organisation and that is important, as it shows you have dedicated and committed yourself to a career. CIMSPA membership shows that commitment and gives your customers and participants confidence in you, your skills and knowledge.

What are the most appealing CIMSPA membership benefits to you?

One of the most appealing benefits of joining CIMSPA is the opportunity to become a Chartered professional. Working towards such a prestigious professional status is a real opportunity for those excelling in our sector and wanting to be recognised for their commitment. The professional status associated with each of the CIMSPA membership types helps people, such as me, to be recognised for our skills and employability. For someone who wants to stand out for and to be distinguished because of their work the chartered process is really appealing.

I have found that being a CIMSPA member enhances your career opportunities, your professional development and network. You are listed on the member directory and can find directories for CIMSPA’s employer, training provider, higher education, and awarding organisations partners. These can be used to find courses available that can then be linked directly with the training provider, which is valuable as you know the courses are of a set industry standard. You also have access to a range of resources including professional standards and CPD opportunities. Then of course there are the discounts on things like education workshops, qualifications, and access to eLearning platforms.

I’ve also noticed a lot of articles available in the Stronger Together hub on the CIMSPA website which was very interesting and detailed a lot of support available. There is also the opportunity to be part of one of the several consultations that are launched to look at different professional standards. Recently, I saw a consultation go out for Tai Chi pertaining to professional standards. I find it fascinating because these are just things we think operate on the periphery and yet, they're extraordinarily important for physical activity and the wider population.

How did you find the membership application process?

As a transferring REPs member, I received an email directly informing of the change over from REPs to CIMSPA. When it was time for me to renew my membership I was able to use the link in the email and I was linked directly to the sign up CIMSPA platform. I continued to the point where I was trying to upload CPD when I decided to call CIMSPA and goodness me, I was offered a level of support that really, really was brilliant. Sophie (one of CIMSPA’s Membership Recruitment Team) guided me through what I needed to do and everybody that I have interacted with has been really, really useful. CIMSPA facilitated me to make that process much easier. I really have a better understanding of where the organisation is going and how it has these plans to really recognise my skills in the sector.

How has being a CIMSPA member supported you and your career?

Joining CIMSPA gives you access to a chartered institute at your fingertips and all the benefits that come with it. Even if you just look at the amount of money saved through discounts then it is worthwhile. You receive communications and articles to read on pertinent topics about what’s happening in the sector. You can then start to spot trends and opportunities, and maybe start looking for CPD opportunities. The guidance provides confidence, and helps to give confidence to your customers, participants, employers and colleagues, in your own skills and experience because you have made that investment in becoming involved in a professional organisation and having a professional status. To me that speaks volumes.

Summary

Diane is just one of thousands of CIMSPA members whose dedicated career represents the commitment, passion and devotion to sport and physical activity. CIMSPA, our members and partners are working together to bring recognition and respect for our profession and this continues to be possible because of our members, like Diane.

If you would like to get involved or submit your own blog please contact james.carr@cimspa.co.uk for further details and requirements.

 

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity


CIMSPA’s work enhances the career opportunities and professional development of the workforce operating in sport, fitness, exercise, leisure, gyms, coaching, outdoor exercise, health and wellbeing. We achieve this through sector-wide engagement, membership, networking, events, directories and professional standards.
 

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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