For lots of people, fitness is a social endeavor. They go to the gym with the intention of both improving themselves and catching up with friends, and for many, it’s that social interaction (and peer pressure) that helps keep them coming back. The social element of fitness can be a powerful one, serving as the basis for long lasting friendships and offering a level of mutual support that can help you to achieve things you may not have thought you could otherwise.

I’m just not at all about that shit.

I’m one of the other kind of gym guys: the guys that have headphones in before they even walk in the door. In my personal and professional life, I strive to be more approachable than my admittedly gruff looking exterior lets on — but in the gym … there I get to be the real me: no polite welcoming of constructive criticism, no bright-eyed “networking” handshakes, no concern for how I look, just me and my objective.

My “lone wolf” approach to fitness was probably born from years of failed attempts at relying on a gym partner (or group). People have bad habits of making promises to themselves while drunk on motivation, then failing to follow through on those promises in the harsh glow of the morning sun. I’ve organized groups of lifters, fighters, runners and watched our numbers dwindle as progress came too slowly for some and the effort proved too much for others, until there I was again — alone on the mats getting my time in with the one teammate that always shows up, my punching bag.