An award-winning community gym in Deptford started making its own equipment to fit into people’s homes or offices to create a “pandemic-proof” element to its business.

Commando Temple, located under three arches of the Greenwich to London Bridge rail link, also rented out £50,000 of its equipment in a bid to survive the past year.

Founder Rob Blair, who served in the Royal Marines for eight years, told the local democracy service that when the pandemic hit, about half of the gym’s membership stayed on so the business didn’t have to take out “devastating loans”.

“I can’t even emphasise how important that was because otherwise we would have to have potentially started taking loans out.

“But we didn’t because the community rallied round and kept the memberships open,” Rob said.

The gym, which in 2015 won the Lewisham Business Awards best new business, specialises in strength training and martial arts.

It opened up again during the summer but has been closed for 10 of the past 13 months.

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In line with lockdown easing guidance, Commando Temple has opened up today (April 12). Government grant funding has also helped renovate the gym for members to enjoy as they arrive back.

Rob said: “We’ve been just scraping by. The renovation is showing our customers that we’re not just sitting on our arse doing nothing.

“We’ve been able to reinvest it back into the space and to get people excited about coming back.”

Rob also praised the gym’s landlord, the Arch Company.

“They’ve been very supportive of us up until this point,” he said.

The people who continued to pay their memberships also saved Rob a lot of worry.

“We had enough that we didn’t have to take out devasting loans – it made sure we were able to sleep at night without worrying too much.

“A lot of other businesses haven’t made it, even multi-million pound businesses have struggled.

“We’re a small gym in Deptford – in some ways we’ve been able to make things work better because we’re a small independent and we’ve got a loyal base, rather than a big chain.

“But we’ve also had to be really creative to make sure that we’re able to come back. The gym is being renovated.

“We’ve also worked on a another thing during lockdown – making our own kit and equipment. That’s called the Commando Cube and something that will hopefully be pandemic proof.

“The idea is that if someone’s got a garage or office space, we’ll be able to build in a self-sufficient gym, just in case this happens again or in case they don’t want to come back to the gym,” he said.

On what the plan is from here, Rob said: “To open on Monday and not develop any more grey hairs than I currently have, try to get some sleep, and spend more time with my ten-month old daughter.

“Most of our members have been messaging us and can’t wait to get back.”