Sport doesn’t stand still.

It’s now over seven years since the concept of CrossFit arrived in Pembrokeshire. In that time the training venue, located behind the Ridgeway Garage on Fishguard Road, has remained the same.

Everything else however, has evolved significantly.

It was November 2018 when Sam Feneck returned from Australia to become owner of CrossFit Pembrokeshire. Alongside shareholder and fellow coach Matthew Davies, she has since grown the brand with more than 80 signed up members on board.

Indeed, one of her first priorities was establishing a true identity.

“We now have our own title and a name for ourselves,” Sam told me, whilst preparing the gym for the daily 9am class.

“There was CrossFit Carmarthen, and Llanelli, and Cardiff, but now CrossFit Pembrokeshire is well known nationally too.

“Our members work hard and we push them all the time – we kill them off if we have to,” she joked.

“A lot of planning goes in and we have programmes set up a for weeks in advance.”

As proof of progress late last year, the club competed in the CrossFit 2020 Open, an annual worldwide competition held over five weeks. Pembrokeshire finished second in the UK, and 27th worldwide.

Furthermore, last May the group hosted the Rumble in the South West competition, which involved 31 teams from across England in Wales.

“We are so much more structured and professional now,” said Matthew, who has been with the business since day one.

“We started off with two classes a night and people couldn’t always get the benefits they needed. So we were like a small niche in the market with about 30 to 40 members.

“But Sam has helped build things massively and our standards of coaching have improved.”

Indeed, Sam isn’t short on experience.

Having coached in both Bali and Australia, she returned to Wales with ideas that on paper, looked very advanced.

“Countries like Australia are so far ahead of us,” she explained.

“CrossFit is exploding and the standards are constantly being raised - so you have to keep developing all the time.

“There are so many different concepts involved and always new methods and techniques to learn. For example, the gymnastics element in our workouts now is huge.”

And yet, whilst there is an obvious emphasis on improving performance levels and driving things forward, CrossFit Pembrokeshire is about far more than the working with the elite.

In fact, the primary objective is to help athletes of all ages and abilities, irrespective of their personal goals.

“CrossFit is for everyone,” says Sam.

“The age range of our members goes from 17 up to 62. We are happy for people to just walk through the door and join in – and in what other sport do you get that?

“You don’t have to be athlete to come along and using the term ‘beginners’ in classes is very important. It lets people know they don’t need to be at a particular level.”

This isn’t always an easy message to voice. Online pictures and videos, as well as frequent references to CrossFit ‘communities’, often provide a false impression that you don’t sign up unless you can apply a ripped physique to heavy weights and brutal tests of endurance.

“I think that’s a nationwide problem that a lot of places have had to tackle in the past,” admitted Matthew.

“The word community can make people on the outside think the group is a click. Because of that it can be hard at first to convince people to come along.

“But anyone who comes to a class stops thinking that, they feel part of it straight away.

“I can still honestly the say that the most fun comes from coaching classes with beginners. Seeing them make progress and achieve personal bests is so satisfying.

“We enter competitions and our members have different goals. Some are in it to win it, some want a good day out, and some are just there to take part and aren’t worried about competing. But it’s good for their self esteem to be involved and represent us and if they can take something positive away from it then it’s worth it.”

But what about those playing other sports? Can they realistically commit to a CrossFit programme?

In short, yes.

“Other activities and CrossFit can compliment each other. What you do here gives you a basic fitness level for any sport,” insisted Sam.

“There is a saying that being fit doesn’t make you ‘CrossFit fit’. Often people prefer weights to cardio or vice versa but here your combining both and it can be intense.

“We had the Llangwm rugby guys here recently so tapered sessions to involve a lot of plyometrics. We had a tug of war team as well and they were great to coach. If you’re competitive then it’s ingrained in you to push yourself and in CrossFit the clock often plays on your mind – it drives people.”

Matthew of course, is in the perfect position to make comparisons, having played an ample amount of football and rugby in our county.

“The intensity levels you get here you don’t reach on a rugby pitch. CrossFit is shorter bursts and it might be only two minutes of absolutely going for it.

“But it changes your mindset of fitness when you go back to playing a team sport. In rugby you might be at a ruck and instead of taking a rest you push hard to make the next breakdown.”

For CrossFit Pembrokeshire, the term ‘pushing hard’ is an apt one. With the sport continuing to grow at a rapid rate, our own local facility won’t be left behind.

The Rothery Health Centre and Sports Injury Clinic and JPI Apparel are among the companies on board to ensure the well being of all members is looked after, and CrossFit Kids classes for 5-11 year olds are now underway with the goal of easing youngsters into the concept.

“We want to continue to grow our programming and keep challenging ourselves to move forward,” said Sam.

“Llewella Scale is one member who is now a qualified coach and we want a base of experienced and instructors. Our door is open to everybody and I would urge anyone tempted to come along.”

And as Matthew added, even the coaches themselves are learning new things.

“Nine years after I first did a handstand hold and Sam is teaching me new ways of doing it. There is so much to master and you never stop picking up new things.”

The focus and drive behind CrossFit Pembrokeshire is clear, as is the ambition to evolve. From people pushing each other to the limit, to club socials, to the camaraderie that clearly exists the concept of the CrossFit community is very real.

And if your intrigued it’s worth remembering that it’s a community, irrespective of your age, size, or levels of fitness, that is open to everyone to join.

For more information on the classes run by CrossFit Pembrokeshire, and how to join, visit, or the club Facebook page.