By Gordon Deegan
Gym equipment providers have been invited to tender for a €100,000 refit of the Oireachtas gym to keep our TDs in shape.
The Oireachtas Commission is seeking tenders from firms to provide a range of cardiovascular equipment, weight resistance and ancillary equipment for the Oireachtas Fitness Room which is used by TDs, Senators and Oireachtas staff.
The Oireachtas gym has recently seen a sharp increase in use by TDs and Senators with visits going up by 41% to 390.
The figures for 2017 show that TDs and Senators however only make up a small portion of the 4,740 gym sessions recorded at the Oireachtas gym last year, with the remainder being made by Oireachtas staff.
The new equipment is down to be delivered on December 1 next.
From then on, users will be able to use a range of new equipment that includes four treadmills, two cross trainers, one upright bike ergometre; a spin-bike; a rowing machine, a lateral pull-down machine; a chest press; a leg press machine, a machine assisted pull-up; a wall mounted mat rack and multi-purpose workout mats.
In the tender, the Oireachtas Commission has put an estimated price tag of €100,000 (ex VAT) to supply the equipment over the next two years. The supplier will also have to maintain the equipment over the two-year period - the existing equipment in the gym will be 'traded out' against the new equipment.
The fitness room opened to members and staff in November 2005 with the aim, according to the Oireachtas Commission, "of offering a healthy recreational outlet to counterbalance some of the negative lifestyle aspects of working long irregular hours in the Parliament".
The fitness room is situated on the lower ground floor of Kildare House and is operated by an external provider. The Oireachtas Commission said: “The fitness room is used actively throughout the year, with an average of approximately 400 visits per month.”
Enthusiastic runner and walker, Timmy Dooley, said today that he does not use the gym at Kildare House.
However, the Clare Fianna Fáil TD said that it should not be solely funded by the taxpayer and that users should pay a small membership fee.
Last year, the running costs of the gym totalled just over €45,000.
Deputy Dooley said that it is laudable in an era when there is so much focus on personal health that the gym is there in the workplace at the Oireachtas “but users should help pay for it”.
A spokesman for the Oireachtas Commission said today: "The equipment being replaced dates to 2004-2005 and suffers from wear and tear and, in some cases, electronic consoles no longer function. It will be sold, so its current second-hand market value will be recouped.
"The Oireachtas is committed to providing a healthy work environment for members, staff and gallery journalists. Its commitment is rooted in public policy, including 'Healthy Ireland, A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025," the national framework for improving the health and wellbeing of people living in Ireland.
The framework identifies several actions relevant to providing a Fitness Room for members, staff and gallery journalists, including Action 1.6, which states: "All public sector organisations and workplaces will be required by Government to promote and protect the health and wellbeing of their workforce, their clients and the community they serve."
The closing date for tenders is November 7 with the Oireachtas seeking for the equipment to be delivered on December 1.