- For most of her life, Helen Mirren has completed a daily 12-minute military workout.
- I appreciate Mirren’s approach to life, so thought I would give it a try.
- It was complicated, boring, and I gave up after six days.
Seeing photos of Dame Helen Mirren the day after she appeared on the red carpet at Cannes back in May, I was in awe. The 77-year-old was effortlessly captivating, with hair long and tinted lavender, confidently herself.
Once a purple-haired woman myself, I wanted to know more about the iconic actress and quickly discovered Mirren’s routine sounded familiar to mine — minus the red carpets and movie sets. Her nightly face care routine is simple (cleanse and add a bit of moisturizer), she doesn’t go too crazy on her makeup, and she enjoys food and alcohol.
So when I discovered that the daily workout routine that had kept her in shape for decades is 12 minutes long — and considering I did fewer than 12 minutes of exercise in the past month — I thought “hey, maybe this is another part of our daily routines that we could share.”
According to a Yahoo News report from 2014, Mirren does a Royal Canadian Airforce workout from the ’50s, called the X BX Plan, which I found as a PDF via a quick Google search and hoped was as close as possible to what Mirren completes each day.
The 50-page pink pamphlet includes 12 exercises with a set number of reps to be completed in a limited amount of time, accompanied by diagrams and descriptions on how to do each one.
You start at level one and move on to the next when that becomes easy. As the level increases, so do the number of reps.
You keep increasing the level until you hit your goal, which is determined by your age. The highest level is for age 15 to 17 (level 44), and a mere 30 for a 27-year-old like me.
Insider previously reported on how simple exercises can be effective without the need for flashy unnecessary equipment, and how modifying an exercise to make it harder, such as increasing the reps, is a good way to see results. So I figured maybe I could stick to this for more than a week, as my new workout routines rarely lasted that long.
Like all good fitness regimes, the first day of my new workout plan started on a Monday. Although, unlike good fitness regimes, I was returning from — and really feeling the effects of — a three-day music festival.
But I pulled my gym shorts out from the dark depths of my wardrobe anyway and started reading through the 51-page workout.
After thirty minutes of examining the complex