Life Fitness

Saturday 20 September 2014

We put the Helen Mirren's 
fitness plan to the test

Olivia Parker

Published 25/07/2014 | 02:30

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The Royal Canadian Air Force exercise routine used by Helen Mirren
The Royal Canadian Air Force exercise routine used by Helen Mirren
The Royal Canadian Air Force exercise routine used by Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren swears by a daily 12-minute fitness plan, but will it work for everyone.

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1. Leg lifting x 2

The lady in the RCAF booklet seems to be achieving a vertical leg with great ease, though it might be a trick of the strange leotard she is wearing. Performing two of these is not too difficult, but you'd definitely get hip burn after doing 15, which is my target number.

2. Lateral bending x 5

The "I'm a little teapot" dance, as some like to call it, is said to bring "profound release to the diaphragm". It loosens my limbs and leaves me energised.

3. Arm circling x 24

This is surprisingly tiring for such a ridiculous-looking gesture. It gets worse as the levels increase and you switch circling for "windmilling" - one arm following the other, moving both at once.

4. Chest and leg raising x 4

Definitely the move you'd least like your neighbours to catch you doing, this involves lying flat on your front, hands tucked beneath your thighs, while raising your head, shoulders and alternate legs.


Women in my age bracket, 26-30, should aim to reach a fitness level of 30 (out of 48) in the RCAF plan, performing exercises for 12 minutes every day. I'm impressed - it's a comprehensive workout in a short time, even at level one. You don't need special clothes or shoes (unless you want to emulate that Fifties look with a leotard), nor more space than a yoga mat. The exercises are basic and I can't see them giving you enormous strength, but they would definitely tone and improve mobility.

Of course, if that's not enough, there's always the promise, contained in the original booklet, that the workout will boost "desirable qualities such as vitality, appearance and personality". What better incentive to start training like a dame?

Irish Independent

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