MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Most people have a routine when they work out.
But there's a deeper meaning behind why Kevin Ruch chooses to run on the same specific treadmill each day.
"I was running 11.5 miles on the treadmill, and then I dropped over and my heart stopped," said Ruch.
The former Olympic trial runner went into cardiac arrest back in 2021.
He credits surviving the experience to the quick thinking and response from Planet Fitness staff and a fellow gym-goer. Gym leaders say there is always a CPR-certified member on staff.
"In a span of two minutes I had CPR, the paddles, and I was being treated by the ambulance," said Ruch.
Just two weeks later, he returned to the gym in Mechanicsburg.
"I approached the treadmill it happened on and somebody was on it," said Ruch. "I said, 'I'm the guy that dropped dead here two weeks ago,' and he got off."
People ask Ruch, why go on that treadmill?
"I'm not going to let it beat me," he said.
It's that level of perseverance in the face of adversity that sets the Cumberland County native apart.
You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Ruch also has a heart defect.
"I've been through a lot," he said. "Nineteen surgeries in 10 years."
Now, he's currently in his third battle with cancer.
"October 31st of this past year, they told me I had one year left to live," said Ruch.
Getting that kind of news can be debilitating to most, but Kevin used it to fuel him.
"I don't buy into whatever they say are the statistics," he said. "I seem to have the ability to overcome them."
After chemotherapy failed, he continued to work out daily, regaining strength and endurance. That, coupled with his positive mindset and holistic healing, led to some amazing news.
"I had a tumor in my right lung that was the size of a peach, and they think it's smaller," said Ruch.
He says there's also been improvement in his blood and urine results across the board.
"Some people think I have the worst luck," he said. "I think I have the best."
And now, sharing his experience is encouraging others to get checked out, too.
"My story has literally saved lives," said Ruch.
Planet Fitness in Mechanicsburg surprised Ruch with a free membership, thanking him for sharing his story.