A gym regular whose heart stopped for 40 minutes after he suffered a cardiac arrest in a health club hot tub, is defying medics to return to training just months later.

Roderick Wood, 52, of Bruce Avenue, Goring, was winding down after his workout at David Lloyd in Romany Road, Worthing in February when he lost consciousness and “swallow dived” into the tub.

Mr Wood said: “I had done my usual routine rowing, running, some weights and a swim.

“Then I went for a sauna and a Jacuzzi and the next thing I knowI was in a coma.”

A club member raised the alarm and lifeguard Callum Phelps and a paramedic who was swimming at the time used CPR and a defibrillator to save his life.

Unless CPR is started when someone goes into cardiac arrest, permanent damage to the brain and other organs starts after four to six minutes.

The club’s sports manager Nathan Gillingham said: “We played a small part. The heroes on the day were the paramedics. The ambulance crew were quick, and were there in four or five minutes.”

Initially expectations were low, with medics unsure if Mr Wood would come out of the coma, and if he did whether he would be brain damaged or paralysed.

While in a two-week coma, Roderick could hear and understand but could not speak.

He spent 12 weeks in hospital and was only released two weeks ago.

Staff helped him with his speech and memory due to the amount of time his brain was starved of oxygen.

Last week Roderick was back at the club for an emotional reunion with the team.

He said: “How can you thank someone who saved your life? If Nathan and the team weren’t there, I wouldn’t be here without a doubt.”

He said the 40 minutes while his heart had stopped was “serene and calm”, but added: “There were no white lights and I didn’t get the next lottery numbers.”