A lifesaving decision: Baxter man’s decision to head to the gym saved his life

“I was talking to Laurie and ... she was going to run some errands and I told her I was going to go home and eat the homemade beef and broccoli my wife made over the weekend and that was it. I picked up my shoes, sat down on the chair from what I can remember, and over I went," the Baxter man said.

Anytime Fitness employee Mark Fussy (left) embraces Les Lodewyck of Baxter Monday, April 26, after a presentation of several Heartsaver Awards presented by North Memorial Health Services in Brainerd at the Anytime Fitness center in northeast Brainerd. The Heartsaver Award is given to individuals who participate in the successful resuscitation of a patient in cardiac arrest. Fussy along with several others received the award Monday for their part in saving Lodewyck's life when he went into cardiac arrest at the fitness center. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

A decision to work out at a Brainerd gym in February most likely saved a Baxter’s man’s life.

On Feb. 8, Les Lodewyck headed to Anytime Fitness in northeast Brainerd, but not without hesitation. He had to talk himself into going.

“I wasn't even going to go as it was a day after the Super Bowl,” Lodewyck said Monday, April 26, while at Anytime Fitness. “I was sitting there saying, ‘Hey, you’re retired, you’re short and fat and you need to get to the gym,’ so I came ... and it was a lifesaving decision.”

It was indeed, as the 63-year-old Baxter resident collapsed when he went into cardiac arrest. Staff at Anytime Fitness acted fast and performed CPR on Lodewyck as they waited for emergency responders to arrive. The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, Brainerd Police Department and North Memorial Health Ambulance responded and subsequently resuscitated the Baxter man. He was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital and has since made a full recovery.


“If I would have stayed home ... I don't remember the exact time, but I would have been by myself and my wife wouldn't have been home until 4:30 (p.m.),” Lodewyck said, who thought it was about 11 a.m. or noon when he was at the fitness center. “I was at the right place at the right time, with the right people.”

Lodewyck shared his story after a short program by North Memorial Health Ambulance Services, where several Heartsaver Awards were presented to the people who helped save his life at Anytime Fitness in Brainerd.

Kevin Lee, ambulance services manager in Brainerd, said the Heartsaver Award is given to individuals who participate in the successful resuscitation of a patient in cardiac arrest.

Lee said there are not many cases in which someone who has a cardiac arrest survives and walks out of the hospital. Lee said across the country, only about 10% of cardiac arrest patients live and are released.

“Without the Anytime Fitness staff doing CPR, I really don’t think it would have turned out as good as it did,” Lee said.

North Memorial Health gave awards to Anytime Fitness manager Mark Fussy and personal trainer Laurie Miller, and Miller’s husband Mike Miller, a member at the fitness center, all of whom assisted in helping the Baxter man. North Memorial Health paramedic Mike Maxe and Brainerd police officers Drew Selvestra and Jay Personius also received the award for their role in saving Lodewyck.

“God had a plan and he saw it play out in front of us all,” said Fussy, who performed CPR on Lodewyck for 7 minutes, with assistance from the Millers. “It was just one of those things where we happened to be at the right place at the right time. It wasn’t perfect, but we got it done.”


Lodewyck responded by saying, “You couldn't have done it any better.”

Lodewyck is no stranger to the fitness center, he had been a member for close to four years. That February morning, leading up to the cardiac arrest, he said he was feeling fine. He was just a bit tired, but said being retired he has a goal to keep active.

“I felt great and I did a half-hour on the treadmill and a half-hour on the weights and I had no pains, no nothing,” Lodewyck said. “The saying that ‘your life flashes before your eyes’ thing — doesn’t happen. You just see the last thing you're looking at.

“I was talking to Laurie and ... she was going to run some errands and I told her I was going to go home and eat the homemade beef and broccoli my wife made over the weekend and that was it. I picked up my shoes, sat down on the chair from what I can remember, and over I went. When I came to I actually thought I was being mugged. And it was actually, I believe the paramedics, that were helping me. When they calmed me down and assured me that everything was OK, I then started to listen to their direction.”

Lodewyck said he is going to have a permanent defibrillator in the next week or two, but from what all the doctors and nurses told him, he is lucky the Anytime Fitness people knew CPR as it saved his life.

“I’m very thankful for all these people,” he said as he pointed at all of them who were standing around listening to his story.

“With what’s going on in the world today, this is what it’s really all about. We need our law enforcement, we need our paramedics, we need people who are actually trained when they’re helping people stay in shape and get healthier in their life.”

Jeremy Pollock, owner of Anytime Fitness in Brainerd, said all the staff are trained in CPR and have to keep up with the certifications. He said since the business opened in Brainerd in 2007, this is the first time any employee had to use their CPR skills — and he is happy they were trained.


Lee encourages everyone to get trained on how to perform CPR.

Learning how to perform CPR properly takes just a few short hours, but it can change a life forever. The American Red Cross offers in-person, online and blended learning CPR courses designed for adults, children, health care providers, schools and more. Learning CPR can help save a life during a cardiac or breathing emergency. However, even after training, remembering the CPR steps and administering them correctly can be a challenge, the American Red Cross stated on its website. The Red Cross created a step-by-step guide to help people that can be found at

Before giving CPR

  • Check the scene and the person. Make sure the scene is safe, then tap the person on the shoulder and shout, "Are you OK?" to ensure the person needs help.

  • Call 911 for assistance. If it's evident the person needs help, call or ask a bystander to call 911, then send someone to get an AED, or an automated external defibrillator, used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. If an AED is unavailable, or if there is no bystander to access it, stay with the victim and begin administering assistance.

  • Open the airway. With the person lying on his or her back, tilt the head back slightly to lift the chin.

  • Check for breathing. Listen carefully, for no more than 10 seconds, for sounds of breathing. Occasional gasping sounds do not equate to breathing. If there is no breathing, begin CPR.

CPR steps

  • Push hard, push fast. Place hands, one on top of the other, in the middle of the chest. Use body weight to help administer compressions at least 2 inches deep and delivered at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute.

  • Deliver rescue breaths. With the person’s head tilted back slightly and the chin lifted, pinch their nose shut and place mouth over the person's mouth to make a complete seal. Blow into the person's mouth to make the chest rise. Deliver two rescue breaths, then continue compressions. If the chest does not rise with the initial rescue breath, re-tilt the head before delivering the second breath. If the chest doesn't rise with the second breath, the person may be choking. After each subsequent set of 30 chest compressions, and before attempting breaths, look for an object and, if seen, remove it.

  • Continue CPR steps. Keep performing cycles of chest compressions and breathing until the person exhibits signs of life, such as breathing, an AED becomes available, or EMS or a trained medical responder arrives on scene. End the cycles if the scene becomes unsafe or if performing CPR cannot be continued due to exhaustion.

Source: American Red Cross.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

Receiving Heartsaver awards Monday, April 26, 2021, at Anytime Fitness are Mark Fussy, (left), Laurie and Mike Miller, Drew Selvestra, Brainerd Police officer, Mike Maxe, North Memorial paramedic, and Jay Personius, Brainerd Police officer. In the center is Les Lodewyck who was resuscitated after suffering cardiac arrest Feb. 8, 2021, at the fitness center. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

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