I’m no expert by any means, but after almost six years and 1,200 classes, I’ve noticed a number of habits amongst people I’ve tried to emulate and learn from. I won’t try to distill all I’ve observed into a single post, but do want to share 5 common characteristics of the effective CrossFit athlete:

1. They put in their time

Let’s face it, we can only accomplish so much in a sixty-minute class without diluting the experience. That being said, the effective athlete steps back and asks themselves, “How am I going to make the most of those sixty minutes?” They start by showing up early, doing extra mobility, rolling out and getting themselves ready for that heavy squat day. You see them after class, whipping themselves sadistically — ah, practicing double unders — so when they pop up in the Open they can confidently say “Suck it Castro. I got this!” Effective CrossFitters are willing to invest a little extra to prepare and develop skills that allow them to progress in their training.

2. They keep a training journal

Not sure what your Fran time is or the weight of your one rep max Back Squat? The effective CrossFitter sure does. Whether it’s on their phone or in a notebook, these athletes have a system in place to log, track and identify their progress. They make notes about how they felt during a workout, what – if any – goals they have and can readily identify rep maxes for any major lift (deadlifts, squats, presses, the clean and jerk, the snatch) or scores for the benchmark workouts. That information is at their fingertips. It allows them to intelligently look at their training, helps them progress and make the most of their class time.

3. They ask questions

Effective athletes recognize that they don’t know everything and ask questions of people in the know. They recognize that others have paved the way and ask their coaches for tips, progression drills and nutrition advice. If they don’t understand the intent of a workout or training cycle, they talk to their coaches or other seasoned athletes. They seek knowledge and have a student’s mind. They value learning and growth.

4. They are mindful

CrossFit has the unique ability to press the Reset Button on our daily lives and all it takes is a willingness to invest in the moment. Effective athletes recognize this. They see purpose in being present and connected to themselves. By observing their breath, listening to their body and being aware of how they move through space, these CrossFitters harness a valuable tool. By practicing mindfulness, not only do these athletes make the most of their experience, they invite more success into every aspect of their lives.

5. They have fun (and make sure others do too)

A smile on their face after they grind out that last, heavy set of squats. Dancing or singing to themselves when they are dying during a metcon. Appreciating the fact that one failed lift or bad training session isn’t the end of the world. Effective athletes understand that long-term health and wellness is serious business, but recognize that it’s important to enjoy the process. They also realize that CrossFit is about community, celebrating achievements and supporting one another. Effective CrossFitters are among the first to high five someone when they PR. When another athlete is struggling during the final stages of a WOD, they cheer that person on and help them rally instead of cleaning up. They check their ego and bring a positive vibe into the gym.

Of the athletes in our community that you look up to and respect, what other habits have you noticed? I’d love to know! – Coach Steve