Evolving Fitness in Pembrokeshire

Josh Smith

Josh Smith grew up in Letterston and enjoyed all the benefits of village life, but the Army was his choice of career in 2006 when he was 22.

“I wanted to make a difference in the world,” Josh told me. “The Army promised good discipline, something that had been missing from my difficult childhood. I met great people and learned a lot. I did miss home and family, but it was good for me to move away and experience the world.”

Following his training in places such as Grantham, Purbright and Cardiff, Josh went on to serve six years, first in logistics and later transferring to the engineers.

When Josh decided to leave the Army, he found himself a bit adrift. Crashing his car just as he was thinking of leaving didn’t help and he found himself getting into a bit of trouble.

Good times in the Army

“Nothing terrible,” he assured me, “ but I was a bit aimless. I knew I needed to get things back on track, so I made contact with Barry John at the VC Gallery.”

Barry had been Josh’s recruiting officer and in his second life of supporting veterans after their Army careers, he advised Josh on moving forward.

“Barry put me in touch with the Poppy Factory, who support veterans back into employment.”

The Benevolent Fund was contacted by them and Josh joined the Warrior Programme.

“A lot of veterans do the course to help deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. My PTSD was more from childhood than the forces in reality, but it really helped me deal with issues.”

It was four days of intense therapy which Josh found weird, but it helped him. He came out of it knowing that he wanted to channel his experience and his skills into helping other people feel better about themselves .

“Fitness was very important to me. The best way I had found to maintain good mental as well as physical health was through exercise, so when the Army Benevolent Fund agreed to support me to take a course in physical training, I made plans for my new career.”

Following twelve months’ training Josh qualified as a personal trainer and began his own business, Evolve Fitness Pembrokeshire. He has helped a number of people to cope with a range of issues, but unfortunately the pandemic came along and lockdown followed shortly after he started.

Needing to bring in the money and keep busy, Josh has been working at South Pembrokeshire Hospital since March 2020 but he has big plans for the future.

“I would like to go to university and train to be a physiotherapist soon,” he explains, “ but meanwhile I will continue to work with people who need support to deal with their physical and mental issues through physical activity, as much as the pandemic will allow.

“I have completed an exercise referral course and can work with people with a range of health conditions.”

Josh loves his fishing

I asked Josh to tell me more about his work. “After all my own experiences I am living proof that exercise helps people manage their mental and physical health better. That’s a big motivator and after only three or four sessions people usually start to feel so much better. Generally they are keen to keep going. Four months is a really great foundation because you will be seeing some good physical changes by then. That really helps you to stick with a routine, and to stay well and in good spirits. Some people I work with like to keep going, to have someone to work with long-term after that.”

Sounds good. I asked Josh if he had any tips for managing our everyday stresses in the times of Covid.

“Try to keep in close contact with friends and family. Zoom is good if you can’t meet in person and it is handy for quizzes etc. Exercise of course is really important. Even if you have little or no equipment think of star jumps, press-ups, burpees, lunges, squats… Meditation and mindfulness are also great, and don’t forget the importance of a healthy, balanced diet and good sleep.”

Thanks, Josh.

You can contact Josh to talk about getting some help and to discuss cost on: Facebook Evolve Fitness Pembrokeshire or call 07984340073.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty Parsons

Kitty is an incomer, with five summers under her belt and the knowledge that even the wettest and greyest of winters have not diminished her love of Pembrokeshire. She knows she will never live long enough to be considered a local but hopes to leave some small mark through writing about this beautiful county and its people.

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