TDs are to get their own personal trainer to ensure they are fighting fit for the next general election.
The Houses of the Oireachtas are offering a two-year contract for a professional fitness instructor to help TDs, senators, and public servants shape up with workouts in the gym at Leinster House.
However, the successful candidate may have their work cut out.
Figures published earlier this year revealed that the Oireachtas gym is rarely used by politicians. TDs and senators visited the facility on just 394 occasions last year, despite it being a free perk of the job. Elected representatives accounted for only 8% of more than 4,800 gym visits in 2018.
The new role will require the winning bidder to operate and manage the Oireachtas gym and be onsite at all times during its opening hours — up to 27.5 hours per week when the Dáil or Seanad are sitting.
The Oireachtas has put aside a provisional annual budget of €80,000 for the service. Potential bidders will be assessed on a range of criteria, with a weighted scoring system used to mark them on their approach to the delivery of personalised training programmes, managing the gym, and cost.
The gym was opened in 2005 to offer a health recreational outlet for TDs, senators, and Oireachtas staff to counterbalance what the Houses of the Oireachtas describe as “some of the negative lifestyle aspects of working long, irregular hours in the parliament”.
Funded by taxpayers, the cost of running the facility last year was €49,205, which included payments to Inspire Fitness, a Cabra-based fitness centre, for providing two part-time staff and other professional services.
The gym is equipped with cardiovascular equipment including four treadmills, two cross-trainers, two rowing machines, and two exercise bikes. It includes leg and abdominal machines, weights, dumbbells, and multi-functional exercise machines. The facility, which can cater for up to 15 users at a time, has changing rooms and showers.
The gym is open every weekday from 12.30pm to 3pm regardless of whether the Dáil or Seanad are sitting, with opening hours at other times depending on the day of the week.
According to the Houses of the Oireachtas, the busiest periods for use of the gym are in the morning and lunchtime. Tenders published last year show the Houses of the Oireachtas had also set aside a budget of over €100,000 to replace old gym equipment.