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The life of a Sports Activator

20 July 2018

There’s a bit of a misconception that sport at uni means one of two things: either joining a club or going to the gym. Joining a club usually entails commitment to training sessions and Wednesday fixtures, and the social side can take up a lot of time, too. Going to the gym is the opposite – it requires self-motivation and there is certainly less of a social side with everyone wearing headphones these days.

Staying fit has always been important to me. I tried two different sports clubs in first year but didn’t settle in either of them. I assumed, then, that going to the gym would be my only option. It did feel lonely, though, and it was hard to push myself on. At the end of first year, however, I was approached by a member of staff from Sport, Exercise and Health, who gave me some information about other ways of getting involved in sport, including the Game Changers programme and some paid roles. I applied successfully for a Sport Activator job. I can't overstate the impact it’s had on the rest of my uni experience.

The role of a Sport Activator mainly focuses on supporting the B:Active programmes. B:Active Campus is a scheme to provide accessible sport and fitness classes to students in order to get as many students as possible doing some form of exercise every week. We predominately appeal to students who aren’t involved in a sports club, but anyone is welcome to attend sessions. The basic format is a come-when-you-can class.

We found that first years often needed some extra motivation and support (that was my experience, too). B:Active Residences was started in 2016 to deliver free classes and sports sessions directly in the halls. Sport Activators are the glue that hold these programmes together, attending every session to help the instructor, set the rooms up, take the registers, and most importantly, make sure that all the participants feel welcomed and included. Attending sessions for the first time can be daunting, but Activators are there to help everyone get stuck in! Sometimes there are first-aid issues, or problems with the room bookings, and it’s great to have students who can take responsibility and resolve problems.

We work in a team of about 20 to cover all the different classes, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to try out so many different sports as part of my job! My favourite session is currently Box HIIT at 8am on Monday morning which, although sounds unlikely, is definitely the best way to start the week, honestly! It’s so rewarding to see students turn up, have fun, and push themselves with their fitness. Sometimes students have questions about gym memberships, other classes, or have suggestions for new sessions. An Activator is always there to answer any queries or pass on feedback to the sports department.

The best thing about the job is having the opportunity to encourage other students to develop a passion for sport, and I’ve seen so many students develop in confidence over the last two years. Being a part of a club doesn’t suit everyone, so providing alternatives to students is really important. I started as an Activator, but in 2017/18 I’ve been a Student Sport Development Coordinator and also represent participation sport on the Sports Exec Committee. I often work in the uni gym and occasionally do some class instructing, too. There are so many opportunities within the Sport, Exercise and Health department, and I’ve been able to develop my skills and really enhance my CV with their support. I’m looking forward to continuing a career in sport.

I’m graduating this week, so reluctantly I’m having to hand my job on to newer students. I’d encourage anyone with a love of sport to think about applying for the role of Sport Activator. You don’t have to be a star athlete to apply – in fact the best Activators are often the ones who can empathise with students who are less exercise confident.

Further information

Student Job Vacancies:

The Sport & Physical Activity Team are recruiting for the 2018/19 student staff team to support the aim of increasing participation at University of Bristol. 


Sport & Physical Activity Activator

Salary: £7.99 per hour plus paid annual leave allowance

Hours: Minimum commitment 3 hours per week, maximum 7 hours

Closing Date: Monday 6th August (9am)

Brief Description: The role as sport activator will involve being an ambassador for physical activity, actively promoting and engaging students into the range of activities on offer. Sport Activators are required to develop and run focused activities on either of our B:Active programmes (Campus or Residences), Fit & Fabulous, Game Changers or Healthy Minds project (each activator will have a specific focus). For more information on the role and how to apply please download the Activator Application Pack (PDF, 191kB)


Student Sport Development Coordinator (x3 roles)

Salary: £8.44 per hour plus paid annual leave allowance

Hours: 7 hours per week

Closing Date: Monday 6th August (9am)

Brief Description: The role as Student Sport Development Coordinator (SSDC) is to work more directly with the lead officers within the division to support and take specific responsibilities for programmes (B:Active, Game Changers or Healthy Minds). The x3 post holders will work together across projects as well as being involved in event planning, delivery and coordination. For more information on the role and how to apply please download the Student Sport Development Coordinator Job Description (PDF, 175kB)

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