“How has training with Charles Staley and Staley Performance impacted your life?”


Helene Benedikte- Tuscon, AZ – Cellist

First of all I was a 70 year old couch potato last year thinking my physically active life was over and the rest would be spent moving from the computer chair to the cello chair to the reading/tv chair etc.   There was no reason to question that.  Then, my brother (Andy Laird) introduced me to Charles Staley when I visited his training sessions at the Bed and Barbell.   I was amazed at what Andy was doing and when Charles said I, too, could double my strength in a year – I kindly explained all the reasons why that was not true for me.   Well, he ignored all that and on the spot convinced me of what might be possible.   I started training and have actually doubled my strength in 6 months instead of a year and in March achieved state and national records in bench press and deadlift.  How is that from going from couch potato to athlete – skipping the “exerciser” step!!!   That brings me to my favorite aspect of Staley training and that is the  Personal Record approach.   For me to keep going with any endeaver, it is absolutely essential that I see progress is being made.   Often I would try something hard, not see progress, give up.  With the approach of making personal records no matter how small the achievement, I have tangible, provable evidence of my progress.  Where so many trainers appear to give up on people over 50, Charles and staff are nothing but encouraging, positive and helpful.  Both Charles and Phil have a way of communicating what needs to be done in a way I can clearly understand and never show to me that they think I can’t do it – at the same time keeping safety at the forefront.  This means all the difference in the world.   I also appreciate the focus on what you can do in your normal life at home (things people used to do before all the conveniences) to increase strength and agility.
What I used to call excercise I can now truthfully call fun i.e  deliberately flipping queen bed mattresses when changing sheets just because I can.  Something I used to dread and always asked for help for even when young.  Surprisingly, my training has greatly improved my cello playing – I did not know how much strength I had lost gradually over the years.  Now, when my troupe is on tour, I get to push  grand piano’s into place (instead of trucks at the B&B) for us and they have learned it is perfectly ok to let me.   So there you have it!    With much love and gratitude – Helene Benedikte

Andy Laird- Milwaukee, WI – TV Executive

The parallels with my professional and personal life are significant.  In many ways success at any endeavor requires certain elements and attitudes to be in place.  I have been so fortunate to have soaked up my parents keys to success without conscious awareness of the processes I am running.  Having focused and becoming successful as a strength athlete has me consciously planning for success and noticing how I can consciously apply these techniques to other aspects of my life.  Here are several unconscious to conscious awareness items that are propelling my progress to live a wonderful life:

Limiting thoughts – “Oh I just couldn’t possibly do that, achieve that.”  “What a waste of time because I’m not capable of that.”  Really, how do you know?  You haven’t tried.  You need to act, get something going then look for evidence of success.  Focus on and celebrate success and with that the unlimiting realization, the belief that “I can do this” will drive success and amazing joy.

Success visualization – What is the outcome desired, not just the result months later but right now.  What is it I am going to achieve at this moment.  How will it feel (oh man this will be heavy or I’ll get tight, weight back on my heals, accelerate the bar past my knees and blast my hips forward, shoulders back).  What you are thinking about, visualizing, is what will happen.  You must consciously visualize the desired result before it can be achieved.  Some way or another our unconscious mind then figures out a way to get it done.

Enjoy the trip – Real satisfaction comes from following your plan and experiencing successes every day.   Having a “bad day”?  Get out plan B.  Be ready with an alternate plan for these situations, an alternate plan that brings success for that situation.  A strength athlete may want to train heavy lifts today but it’s just not happening so plan B would be a lighter weight but greater volume session, either of which will provide progress.  Maybe it’s a situation where a step is to big.  Break it into smaller chunks so you can be successful with the chunks.  Now you have experienced a string of successes not a stall or big letdown.

Celebrate success – I give myself gold stars and I award them to my reports.  In business you know how important it is to recognize and reward your employees, colleagues.  Well, reward yourself!  My training log is full of stars.  Strength sports are so objective; there’s nothing subjective about the results.  Find a path that gets you successes, celebrate them and be amazed at your progress.  Consciously apply success celebration to other aspects of life and enjoy growing happiness and success.


Martha’s Points: Getting Strong and Feeling Strong from the inside out
Starting Point:  I never saw myself as athletic or fit and now at 54 years old I am thinking of competing in weightlifting.   I wrote this during my first visit to the Bed and Barbell in 11/08. 

Before my 55th birthday I competed in 2 meets in 2009.  Then I went out to do a total of 7 meets, one my first National as a Master lifter.
Lessons in Training: In one training day Charles emphasized going into the squat and feeling my calves.  I began to think about all the details that go into lifting and thought this is amazing. To build strength. . .I thought I want to be strong.  Right away I was able to connect to the way Charles trained because first I knew he believed I would learn this.  Perhaps this is the most important because in life some folks don’t give others a chance there are judgments about age and size, you name it.   As a female I wasn’t exposed to anything related to strength and certainly wouldn’t have chosen it for myself.  Getting stronger looks like it is physical and happens in the body; on the other hand for me it was /is totally integrated in who I am now.  Just recently during my annual evaluation my supervisor and Executive Director commented on how I have reinvented myself, a new Martha. Although I have not received an immediate promotion I am being recognized and acknowledged for my new ideas and contributions to the agency.  I believe this happened very organically I didn’t start out with the goal of looking good I started out with the goal, the desire to be a strong.  I didn’t consider my age or gender that strength is just for males.  It wasn’t an extreme body makeover; instead a very steady one through consistent, disciplined training continually improving from the feedback of what worked and didn’t work in my training.

Another lesson I recall is about failure:  “In life we don’t do things to failure” per Charles.  My prior experience in exercising in a gym was it is painful and you will be sore when you are done. No pain, no gain kind of training.    The training Charles planned for me was a positive learning experience and not one where I would drag myself away and be unable to sit the next day.  Learning the snatch and clean and jerk took me out of my element and comfort zone. I used to be intimidated when I walked into the weight room and never used a barbell.  When I plan my work day in the same manner I go about my training I can remain focused and flexible.  I also can plan to stop while I am ahead.  How many times at work in the past when I continue to go just to get it done my work suffers?

In weightlifting I always end on a positive note.  For example, I warm up on the snatches making each lift and adding weight as I go. Some days I go all the way through without one missed lift and other days I miss and go down in weight and then come back up again.  However, I can always look back and forward to see my pattern which encourages me of my potential and the importance of continuing to train and earning the personal records.  Similarly in work I begin to see that some days are 6 out of 6 attempts are successful which means I trained/worked hard to earn it.  And on other days before I get to the point of failure I stop and end on a positive note.  It’s more than positive thinking. In training as in work and life there are so many variables I take to the weightlifting platform that have accumulated in mind and body and this is what I train and live with.  I need to take the positive along with the stuff that’s challenging because it will always be there.  In work and life I adjust and continual make adjustment accordingly.  Training in weightlifting has made me much more flexible in my thinking which is a great tool to have at work.

Socrates once said something like” Let her who would move the world first move herself” I wrote this quote down during my fist visit to the Bed and Barbell.  This is what I have been living since I started this weightlifting journey.  The thought of moving weight overhead gave me the vision of moving not only the barbell but areas of my life to be successful. 

Fringe Benefit:  They say that individuals are fearful of speaking in public second in line to death.  Well I never would have thought that I would be front and center on a platform in a tight fitting singlet moving weight overhead!  Stepping out and on the platform has gifted me with the confidence and assertive to perform my job and live my life to the fullest!

Troy Paridiso-Pueblo,CO – IT

Competition breeds excellence – this has never rung more true than it did during the time I was fortunate enough to be able to train and learn with Charles Staley and his team for nearly 2 years.  It would have been enough for me just to train with them; to have them push me past the physical limitations that I had unwittingly placed upon myself; but thankfully, Charles wouldn’t let me stop there; he encouraged me to take my new skills and strength and apply them in competition.  It was in the heat of competition that I truly learned what it meant to achieve excellence.  All the hours I spent in the gym strengthening my body and practicing my technique, had not only made me physically stronger than I had ever thought possible, it had also served to strengthen my will.  There were times during my training that I felt that I had nothing more to give and it would have been so easy to take the easy way out and give up – but I didn’t – somehow I needed to find the courage to dig deep and press on knowing that if I wanted to achieve new personal records I had to keep pushing past all the excuses and weaknesses of my mind and body – and I did.  
Unfortunately life happened and I had to move away from Phoenix, but the lessons I learned at the Staley Training facility during my time spent there have stuck with me to this day.  Being a strength athlete is not a path that many would choose to take, especially in their late 30’s, but  I have no doubt that taking this path has made me a stronger person both physically and mentally. I learned what it means to push myself beyond boundaries that most people would never dare to approach; to apply my will to overcome the obstacles of life that try to keep me from being all that I know I can be.   In the end it really doesn’t matter whether I win or lose during competition – I have already won the battle over myself, over my self-imposed limitations, and to me, that is the excellence that competition breeds.