Fitness instructor sought to put the body politic through its paces

Parliament’s private gym on Kildare Street is currently open for 27.5 hours per week during “sitting weeks” for the Dáil and Seanad, and for 18.5 hours per week during “non-sitting weeks”

The Oireachtas is offering €40,000 a year for a fitness instructor to put TDs and Senators through their paces in the parliament’s private gym on Kildare Street.

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

The gym is currently open for 27.5 hours per week during “sitting weeks” for the Dáil and Seanad, and for 18.5 hours per week during “non-sitting weeks”.

The successful candidate 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 own members and staff since the private gym was opened in 2005. Last October it sought tenders for new gym equipment worth €100,000 plus VAT.

The advertisement for the fitness instructor notes that a further upgrade of gym equipment is likely over the course of the four-year contract period.

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, multi-functional rehabilitation machines, along with changing rooms and shower facilities.

Peak periods

Between 12 and 15 people can comfortably use the gym at any one time, the tender documents state. The average number of users on a monthly basis 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 specialised firm paid by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, while cleaning services are also provided by separate contractors.

Last year Fianna Fáil Deputy Timmy Dooley suggested that 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.”