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Helping George Bush to exercise on Air Force One

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Date Published: 12-May-2011

MEET Ted Vickey, the former President of the White House Athletic Centre. A man who possesses a wealth of sporting knowledge, Vickey, in addition to the high profile position he held in Washington, has also written several books on health and fitness.

As interviewees go, Vickey is a fascinating subject. A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, the 41-year-old was a talented swimmer during his high school days – crowned a district champion – while he also competed on the Penn State University water polo team during his college years.

Indeed, only last year, he won an inter-varsities water polo title with University of Limerick – where he completed a masters degree in International Entrepreneurship Management – while this season he has joined Corrib Water Polo, having signed up for a PhD in Exercise and Technology at NUI Galway.

After high school, Vickey undertook an Exercise and Sport Science Bachelor of Science at Penn State, graduating in 1991. During this time, he was required to complete a work placement and made the bold move of applying for an internship at the White House.

“I wondered if the White House had a fitness centre, so I did some research and I found out that they did,” smiles the Salthill resident. “I applied for an internship and they offered me a position. That was 1991; it was the first Bush administration.

“It is called the White House Athletic Centre; the acronym – because in politics everything has to have an acronym – is WHAC. The WHAC, at the time, was a 35,000 sq. foot facility. It was built during the Reagan administration in the 1980s to allow staff to exercise and get healthy.”

At the White House, a young Vickey built up a great working relationship with his boss, Denise Terry, and when his internship concluded, she helped him secure an appointment as a specialist – working in the area of computer applications and fitness – for another Government agency.

However, a year and a half later, the affable American received a call from his old friend and colleague at the White House, Ms. Terry. “She said ‘I have met the man of my dreams, I am moving to Detroit, do you want to buy my company?’ I was 24, making $23,000 a year, thinking how the hell am I going to buy a company. I said, though, ‘you know what, this is something you tell the grandkids about’. So, I said ‘yes’ and I went back to work for her for a year.”

On July 27, 1995, Vickey signed the papers and took charge of the White House Athletic Centre, but the occasion was tinged with some sadness as his grandmother, who he once had told that one day he would hold the hot seat in the Oval Office, passed away.

“The contracts came through and I was now president of a company that ran the fitness centre for the White House. I got a plant delivered to me, with the message: ‘Congratulations, you are now President at the White House. Love Grandma’. She died three hours after I signed the contracts. I still have the plant.”

Over the next 11 years, though, Vickey – who expanded his business along the East Coast – enjoyed some interesting days on Pennsylvania Avenue.

“So, there I was, 25 years old at the time, fitness director at the White House. It was an interesting place to be. I have seen things I shouldn’t have seen; I have done things I shouldn’t have done,” laughs Vickey.

“We had a membership of about 500 members – classified and unclassified – who all paid $365 a year to join, so there was no taxpayer’s money used to run the facility. That was done on purpose, so the general public couldn’t say ‘you are wasting our money’.

“We opened at 6:30am and we closed at 8:30pm, Monday to Friday. I had a staff in there making sure the equipment was being taken care of. We would do group exercise classes, personal training and smoking cessation programmes. When you think about it, the people who came to us, these were people making world decisions. So, from a stress perspective, they needed a place to relax and release and to stay healthy. If these people were out on sick leave for a week, nations could crumble.

“It was a very important place to be. I remember when President (Bill) Clinton left office, he wrote me a little note saying ‘thank you for keeping my staff healthy’.

“We would have rows of treadmills and you might have the Vice President’s Chief of Staff exercising with the White House carpenter, exercising beside the White House florist, exercising beside a Secret Service officer. So, it was really interesting. There was a mix, but you kind of checked the Eagles at the door.”

Of course, every President had their own training regime. President Clinton preferred to exercise outside, while President George Bush’s favoured workout was the cross-trainer, according to Vickey.

“President Bush is probably one of the most fit men I have ever met. The man exercises every day,” says the fitness guru, who underlines the point with an interesting anecdote.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.

That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.

The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.

Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.

Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.

A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.

Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.

Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.

Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action

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Date Published: 12-May-2013

The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.

There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.

Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.

Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.

Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.

The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.

However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.

Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.

 

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