- For most of her life, Helen Mirren has undergone 12-minute military training every day.
- I appreciate Mirren’s approach to life and thought I’d give it a try.
- It was complicated and boring and I gave up after six days.
When I saw photos of Dame Helen Mirren in May the day after she walked the red carpet in Cannes, I was in awe. The 77-year-old was effortlessly gorgeous with her long, lavender hair and confident demeanor.
As a purple-haired woman myself, I wanted to learn more about the legendary actress, and quickly realized that Mirren’s routine looked familiar—minus the red carpets and film sets. Her evening routine is simple (cleansing and adding some moisturizer), she doesn’t wear too much makeup, and she enjoys food and alcohol.
When I found out that the daily workout routine that had kept her in shape for decades was 12 minutes long — and considering I’d exercised less than 12 minutes in the last month — I thought, “Hey, maybe this is another one.” Part of our everyday life.” Routines we could share.
According to a 2014 Yahoo News report, Mirren is completing a 1950’s Royal Canadian Airforce training course called the “X BX Plan” which I found as a PDF via a quick Google search and was hoping it matched the , which Mirren completes each day, comes as close as possible.
The 50-page pink booklet contains 12 exercises with a set number of repetitions that must be performed in a limited amount of time, as well as diagrams and descriptions of each execution.
You start with the first level and move on to the next if that becomes easier for you. As the level increases, so does the number of repetitions.
You keep increasing the level until you reach your goal, which depends on your age. The highest level is for 15-17 year olds (level 44), for a 27 year old like me it’s only 30.
Insider previously shared how simple exercises can be effective without the need for flashy, unnecessary equipment, and how modifying an exercise to make it more difficult, such as B. increasing reps is a good way to see results. So I figured I might stick with it for longer than a week since my new workout routines rarely lasted that long.
As with all good fitness programs, the first day of my new training schedule started on a Monday. Although unlike good fitness programs, I just got back from a 3 day music festival and really felt the effects of it.
But I still pulled my gym shorts out of the dark recesses of my closet and began reading through the 51-page workout.
After thirty minutes of examining the complex PDF, I finally understood what day one would entail.
The two-minute warm-up would be:
- Three toe touches
- Four knee raises
- Five lateral bends
- 24 arm circles (each side)
This is followed by the main part of the training:
- Four partial sit-ups in two minutes
- Four chest and leg raises in one minute
- Four side leg raises in one minute
- Three push-ups (not to be confused with push-ups) in two minutes
- Two leg raises in one minute
- “Run and Hop” – essentially walking in place at 50 paces per foot and then hopping 10 times over the course of three minutes.
Then, as a bonus, there were a few “feet, ankles and posture” exercises.
I got stuck on a podcast and started working out.
Now, I’m no athlete, but the workout seemed painfully slow, even for a hung-over individual — who needs two full minutes to do four partial sit-ups?
The foreword of the pamphlet provided half an explanation. It said the exercises were “carefully selected” and the way they were applied “designed to enable women to achieve physical well-being and lead optimal lives.”
It also showed me that physical fitness improves “desirable traits” like looks, personality, and mental fitness.
My eye started twitching when I saw the plan, which equated looks with attractiveness, but I remembered it being made in the ’50s and thinking that improving physical and mental fitness seemed like a good goal , so I decided to continue training.
As I stretched my arms and jumped out of bed to start day two I was tempted to skip a few levels after yesterday’s slow pace, but the practice notes specifically said I need to increase levels gradually and that “as physical fitness”. improves, workload increases.”
It also reminded me not to engage in fast or strenuous activity, “especially when you’re over 30 years old.”
As I approach my 28th birthday, I have accepted the fact that in the eyes of X BX I am approaching old age and need to take care of my health. I stayed at level two.
The training was again very slow and boring.
The workout notes explained why it was so gentle: “The X BX was designed to tone your muscles—not to make you a muscular woman.” Muscles” would bestow.
I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to see some physical results and improve my strength, but I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to transform into the Incredible Hulk anytime soon.
By the third day, the pressure had multiplied: six partial sit-ups in two minutes.
My new training program had inspired me to run a 10k earlier in the day and so I was feeling a bit tired which made the exercises a new challenge – maybe I would improve my strength as my muscles were more tired now .
I actually felt my heart rate increase slightly as I ran 70 steps in place accompanied by a few jumps. This was the first time I felt the plan could make a difference.
On the fourth day I started to feel a little pain in my legs. It would probably be the running, but maybe the four leg raises did something, I wondered.
I did the workout briskly again and found I was tired of running in place like a kid in gym class.
After four days of whining to my roommates about the workout, on the fifth day I finally felt something and even struggled to finish the warm-up in the allotted time.
I then checked my biceps but couldn’t see any new muscle definition. Disappointing.
The workout didn’t break out in a big sweat, but I enjoyed the yoga atmosphere of the slow movements. I was even starting to see how this would fit into someone’s daily routine since it was so manageable even after a long day at work.
Today I hit a milestone: I raised a slightly glittery brow in 12 minutes. Maybe I’ll finally get there, maybe this is the turning point, I thought to myself.
And then I never completed the training again.
While the exercises themselves were easy, the 51-page PDF full of tables and charts wasn’t – a 12-minute workout typically started with 20 minutes of scrolling before the actual exercise began.
I appreciate a slow burn and not too much pressure – because that might lead to giving up – but six days later I was madly bored and couldn’t take another workout, let alone 24 more, to reach my target level. I’m not sure how Helen Mirren has been training “all her life,” as reported by Yahoo News.
Insider has reached out to Helen Mirren for comment but has not received a response. It remains a mystery if nine years later she’s still scrolling through the 51-page PDF and doing partial sit-ups.