Horror as fit dad drops dead from bench press after joking with brother

An ordinary workout ended in tragedy as fitness-lover and "normal lad" Martin Cleaver suffered a fatal heart attack, despite his brother's best efforts to save his life.

The late 43-year-old from Widnes is described to have had no prior health conditions – "a good man, he was outgoing, good looking and well built" – and also a regular attendee of Runcorn's Body FX gym with his brother, Phil, 40.

On August 17, the pair were alternating weightlifting sets after work; a typical workout that was interrupted by Martin crying out in pain.

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Talking to The ECHO, Phil recounts the moment when he witnessed his brother collapse from his seated position on the bench, tumbling to the floor.

"Martin had just finished his set and sat on the bench, and I started mine. I heard him say 's**t' so I turned around and saw him holding his chest. He then fell straight forward off the bench."

The 40-year-old was aided by other gym members in transferring Martin to his back and performing CPR.

He said "There was about five of us in the gym in total and we rolled him on his back, I went to feel for a pulse but there wasn't one. None of us were trained in first aid and we just started doing what you see on the TV.

"Another lad in the gym was doing chest compressions and I was breathing into his mouth. He started being sick and I thought that was a sign of him getting better, we cleared his airway but about ten seconds later his face went blue."

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Whilst Phil waited for an ambulance, a first aider from a neighbouring Boots pharmacy took over Martin's chest compressions, and the remaining gym-goers bolted to a nearby Wetherspoon's to find a defibrillator. Paramedics rushed Martin to Whiston Hospital, where Martin was pronounced dead from a fatal heart attack.

Martin's sudden death has sent shockwaves through his family: "It was mad because we were having a laugh one minute and the next minute he was dead.

"He was only 43 and I think the worst thing is that there were no symptoms and nothing wrong with him before he died. He was just a normal lad with a 25-year-old son and he loved going to the gym."

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Since Martin's death, Body FX gym have raised £1,790 for a defibrillator from the Oliver King Foundation – a charity working toward providing access to the life-saving equipment for every school in the UK.

Personal trainer at Body FX, Matthew Hayes, commented on the importance of defibrillator access: "Fire extinguishers are installed in every building, it should be the same with defibrillators."

Twelve of the gym's staff and members are now trained in first aid and operating the defibrillators.

Martin is survived by his parents, Ron and Jackie, siblings Phil and Lisa, and his son, Kyle.

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