The House Administration Committee has inked a deal with Gold’s Gym to give a discounted membership rate to House staffers.
“Anybody that deals with Capitol Hill is very, very aware that people put in horrendously long hours on the Hill,” said House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio). “Physical fitness is [needed] to keep people in good health, keep them fresh. I believe that the staff deserves to have this option.”
Under the contract, outlined in a “Dear Colleague” letter, House staffers will pay a monthly fee of $13.95 to use Gold’s Capitol Hill facility, 409 Third St. SW, or $15.95 to use other Washington-area Gold’s Gyms. Staff would be required to pay a $25 enrollment fee.
The deal also provides for a 90-day period for existing gym members to convert to the House membership plan and includes offers for sessions with fitness trainers and travel passes to use at other Gold’s locations.
Costs for the program could reach $50,000 annually for up to 2,000 staffers, according to a source familiar with the contract.
“This is a substantial reduction in price” compared to typical rates, the source said.
Gold’s Gym officials have previously offered informal discounts to Congressional staffers, with initiation fees ranging from nothing to $350 and monthly fees between $34.95 and $64.95.
Other local gyms competing for the three-year contract included Results the Gym and Washington Sports Club.
To register for the special rate, House staffers need to present their House identification cards at Gold’s Capitol Hill facility.
The memberships are considered a taxable fringe benefit, and staffers who participate in the program must submit 1099 forms to the Internal Revenue Service.
Ney credits Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), a strong proponent of building a gym for staffers on the Capitol grounds, with the creation of the discounted gym membership program. Both lawmakers called the program a temporary solution.
“It’s a fine way to start, but for me it’s a start,” said LaHood, who first proposed a gym at an Appropriations Committee hearing in 2001.
“Staff who do a lot of the work around here, staff who work long hours, staff who are here well beyond the time that Members are here ought to have access to a state-of-the-art facility the way that Members do in the House gym,” he said.
LaHood raised concerns that the Gold’s facility will not be able to accommodate the long hours of House staff. The Capitol Hill location is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.
LaHood said he will continue to push for a staff workout facility in the fiscal 2004 legislative branch appropriations bill. Ney said he will give LaHood’s proposals full support.
“We need to continue to pursue a facility on the Capitol campus that is a state-of-the-art facility that obviously reflects our concern for the physical fitness of staffers,” LaHood said.