Chris O’Sullivan rushes back into his office, hastily arranges the fitness equipment he’s just picked up, and pulls up a seat.

He swigs from what I assume is his umpteenth coffee of the day, grabs a mouthful of late lunch, and turns to speak. His eyes are a tad jaded, his voice croaky, and dare I say a grey hair or two is visible up top.

And yet, as always the case with ‘Sully’, he isn’t about to shirk what’s in front of him. Fatigued or not, he’s ready to go.

Which pretty much summarises what life has been like for him since S7 Fitness opened its doors last summer. The public response has been favourable, the reviews flattering, and the workload intense.

“The place doesn’t stop,” he tells me. I think he means in a good way.

“Last night there were people training from midnight through to 6am. Combine that with the classes, the social media, the e-mails and marketing enquiries and the pressure is constant.”

Of course, gruelling schedules and high demands are nothing to new to O’Sullivan. From signing for Swansea City, to fighting for international kick boxing honours, to recovering from the broken Vertebrae that threatened to permanently confine him to a wheelchair – he’s never been one to do things by halves.

But these days, there is more to his life than sport.

There has to be. Him and partner Nicolle have a young baby girl and a second child is on the way.

“Collie has been a massive help to me,” he admits.

“She’s been understanding and thanks to her I have no pressure outside of work. She’s changed me for the better and luckily our daughter Eliza follows her personality and not mine.”

He laughed through the last sentence, but the new-found responsibilities are a far cry from the young boy who grew up targeting a professional sporting career on two fronts.

Under Graham Brockway, he won Welsh, British and European junior kick boxing titles until football scout Ray Evans touted him to Oxford United.  There the kickboxing stopped, and he would later follow coaches Jeremy Charles and Malcolm Elias to Swansea City.

At The Vetch, he was taken on as an apprentice at 16 and became one of the few to be offered a two year YTS contract. Then manager John Hollins rated him, his successor Colin Addison not so much. And following the turbulence of the Tony Petty era, Nick Cusack took over and in short, he and O’Sullivan didn’t see eye to eye.

A scenario he didn’t understand then - but sure does now.

“I believe to this day if Jon Hollins had stayed on I’d have been kept. He liked everything that I was about.

 “I didn’t get why Nick didn’t rate me but now having managed, I do get it. Sometimes a coach has preferences for players and certain systems and not everyone else agrees.”

Mixed years followed and mistakes were made. O’Sullivan came home and signed with Haverfordwest County, then Aberystwyth Town, then the Bluebirds again. Offers came in from Shrewsbury and Yeovil Town but he declined.

“I had been away from home a long time and thought I could settle back for a year and then weigh up offers. It was naive of me. Professional football is cut-throat, take 12 months off and you’re bypassed.”

He would go on to be a pivotal player at the Bridge Meadow for the best part of the decade. He also resurrected his career in the ring as well.

But first came adversity. And then a strength and determination to bounce back that only the most ignorant would choose not to admire.

Aged 24, he was struck by a car and the impact was such his body was found 27 metres away from the collision. Three days in a coma followed, and the subsequent knee surgery paled into insignificance as serious spinal injuries became apparent.

Six and a half months of rehab at Cardiff Heath Hospital was to come, during which time he was told he may never walk again.

“I remember my mum walking in and then walking out crying. But the moment that scared me most was when my dad and Graham (Brockway) came in together. Those two aren’t the type to show fear but they looked at me and their faces said it all.

“There I was at 24 wondering if this was me done.”

He wasn’t. Numerous leg strength sessions with physios got him up again, if not quite running. Hours were spent frustratingly wandering around Goodwick on a frame, and in the meantime different surgeons were refusing requests to risk operating further.

Until that is, a new surgeon announced his arrival in Cardiff.

“Graham took me up to meet him and he was positive from the start,” said O’Sullivan.

“I don’t blame the surgeons who wouldn’t operate and were cautious about liability. But this guy told me there was a way and made it all possible again.”

A couple of operations and nigh on miracle or two later, and against all odds O’Sullivan was cleared to box and play football again.

Derek Brazil offered him an opening back at Haverfordwest and at Merlins Bridge ABC, he switched from kickboxer to simply boxer. A win in the Welsh Championships followed - but defending his title the following year brought about another ‘what if’ moment.

He reached the semi final and having clearly taken the first round, his shoulder popped out in the second. His opponent would take the verdict by default and then go on to take the title.

You may have heard of him. His name was Lee Selby.

“It’s all ifs and buts,” says O'Sullivan, ruefully smiling.

“But I felt comfortable when it happened. I remember going to watch the final and Lee won it and went pro, and later became a World champion.

“I can’t say that could have been me but it’s something I try not to think about.”

Then came a question I was reluctant to ask. And it was one he knew was coming.

On reflection, did his commitment in the ring curtail his career on the football field? Or vice versa?

The answer was starkly honest.

“I knew you’d ask that and in truth, I wish I’d only been good at one.”

Sully’s early experiences were colourful ones but have undoubtedly shaped him today. Parents Terry and Lena gave him ‘nothing on a plate’, and both they and Brockway instilled a mentality in him whereby quitting was not an option. You won’t always win in life but if you’d rather not try, then leave.

Which brought both us over 35-year-olds nicely onto the commitment problems that plague local sport today. On went the ‘back in our day’ switch.

“I see so many kids and talented youngsters who won’t apply themselves or work hard enough anymore,” he said, echoing my own sentiments.

“It’s a different generation. In football now there is too much player power, especially locally. I remember being in the changing room at Haverfordwest when some boys started arguing with (then manager) Deryn Brace.

“Suddenly the medical bag went through the shower cubicle and there was glass everywhere. Boys stopped arguing there and then.

“Living in Swansea was eye opening because a lot of the boys were rough and ready and had been brought up with nothing. Whatever they got they earnt.

“I think that’s why for years Pembrokeshire teams struggled to make an impact in the West Wales Cup. The mindset was weak compared to elsewhere and our teams would crumble away from home.”

O’Sullivan returned to local football in 2015/16 to help coach Goodwick United with manager Nigel Delaney. And he had no qualms about trying to instil the values he’d learnt from years gone by.

“We sat down the with players and structured things. We wanted weekly runs, everyone training, a bus to games, meeting early for home matches, everyone in tracksuits and so on.

“The boys brought into it and we managed to get on a roll by winning three cups in pre-season.”

Famously, the Phoenix Boys then went on to do the treble in a campaign signified by an intense rivalry between them and Hakin United.

“People will run Hakin down but they are winners. They’ve always had that mentality.

“Our rivalry wasn’t painted up. That season we hated each other - we’d shake hands after games but that was about it. Both teams had big characters on the pitch and when we played each other there were usually 22 very good players starting. You couldn’t call games between us.

“We lifted the league trophy at their place but two years later they won it at Phoenix Park. But at their heights the games were excellent.”

Sandwiched in between those seasons though came a campaign in charge of Haverfordwest County with Sean Cresser. As it turned out, players from both sides went with O’Sullivan.

“David Hughes approached me and to be fair, he gave me a licence to do what I wanted but it would be on my head. I knew the Pembrokeshire League and we brought in nine players. It was a successful season.”

By the end of it though, the wheels for S7 Fitness were fully in motion and O’Sullivan returned to Goodwick, although standards were maintained.

“I dropped one player in the changing rooms because I knew he’d been drinking the night before. Whether it be Goodwick or Haverfordwest I wouldn’t allow a culture where players could do what they wanted.”

That may sound belligerent, but a lack of dedication is not an accusation you can send O’Sullivan’s away. And to go with it, he’s no shrinking violet.

Expressing opinions, vociferous arguments, vocal exchanges during matches – they all form part of his make up. It’s an approach which endears him to some but irritates others.

Is it the real him though? Or is it mind games?

“I’m never one to have an opinion behind closed doors. If people can’t take honesty that’s their problem.”

And here’s the key bit.

“Whether you’re a player, manager, or gym instructor you can’t expect anyone to do something you won’t. It’s easy to preach when you haven’t been willing yourself.

“Me and my brother Wayne are chalk and cheese in terms of attitude. I don’t hold back with things whereas he’s laid back and will take a different approach.

 “But our parents both taught us that if we wanted something we had to go in 110%. We are different characters but our mentalities are the same.”

Which brings us back to now and the future at S7 Fitness. I know O’Sullivan well enough by now. This facility isn’t there to just tick over and earn him a wage. He wants the best.

“When I was young and going to Swansea and Sophia Gardens to train the lack of facilities we have in Pembrokeshire really hit home.

“We shouldn’t have people travelling all over the country for specialist coaching. I want this to be a place where people can fulfil their potential like they can in a city.

“I want our classes to be brutal and push people. Yes there is a social element but I don’t like the thought of people strolling out smiling. There are no tv’s on the cardio machines, this isn’t a place for people to plug in headphones and watch Coronation Street for half an hour.

“That might mean the place won’t suit everybody but in classes especially, I want people prepared to try irrespective of fitness levels.”

As for the future, unsurprisingly there are plans to expand. Equally unsurprisingly, O’Sullivan intends to keep giving it his all.

“My staff have all been brilliant as have my friends and family with their support. If the whole thing crumbled in six months I’d honestly have no regrets because I know that everyone involved couldn’t have done any more.”

Spoiler - it won’t crumble in six months.

You have to admire the mindset of O’Sullivan. The drive. The relentlessness.

And as his parting line to me emphasised, the honesty.

“Don’t be afraid to quote me on anything I’ve said. People will know what I’m like.”

Yes they do.

He talks the talk.

But also walks the walk.

  • For more on how to become a member of S7 Fitness, or for details on deals and classes, visit, the group Facebook page, or their Twitter handle (@S7Fitness).