herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

€160k gym instructor sought to help TDs and senators get in shape

Equipment at the Oireachtas gym includes four treadmills. Photo: Jasminko Ibrakovic
Equipment at the Oireachtas gym includes four treadmills. Photo: Jasminko Ibrakovic

The Houses of the Oireachtas will pay €160,000 over four years for the services of a fitness instructor to put TDs and senators through their paces in the parliament's private gym.

The parliamentary authority is currently seeking tenders for an on-site fitness instructor who would be available to Oireachtas members and staff at all times during opening hours.

Hours

The fitness room is currently open 27.5 hours a week during sitting weeks for the Dail and Seanad and 18.5 hours a week during non-sitting weeks.

The successful candidate for the role is expected to be paid €160,000, excluding VAT, over a four-year period, according to the tender.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has invested heavily in fitness for its members and staff in recent years.

Last October, it sought tenders for new gym equipment worth €100,000, plus VAT.

However, the current advertisement for the services of a fitness instructor notes that a further upgrade of gym equipment is likely during the four-year contract.

The private fitness room was opened in 2005 for the purpose of "offering a healthy recreational outlet to counterbalance some of the negative lifestyle aspects of working long, irregular hours in the parliament", according to procurement documents.

The facility, which is located in Kildare House, currently boasts four treadmills, two cross-trainers, two exercise bikes, two rowing machines and a range of resistance-training equipment.

It also has free weights, two benches and multi-functional rehabilitation machines, along with changing rooms and shower facilities. Between 12 and 15 people can comfortably use the gym at any time, the tender documents state.

The average number of users monthly is 400, with mornings and lunchtimes considered peak periods.

Other times, "such as late evenings", are "less busy", it adds.

The equipment is maintained by a specialist firm, paid by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. Cleaning services are also provided by separate contractors.

Last year, Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley suggested TDs and senators who use the gym should pay a small membership fee rather than leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill.

"To avoid the perception of the Oireachtas being seen to be looking after itself, users should make a small contribution towards the running of the gym," he said.

"I don't think any of them would be against that."

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