Patrick Fallis

Kickstart Your Morning With This One Habit


A week or so ago, I stumbled upon a fitness-related video on Youtube by "Calisthenicmovement". The title intrigued me, as there are so many "optimal" morning routines of the life hack variety, mostly full of crap, but this one seemed different.

What I liked about this video was how simple it was. Drink water, do some stretching exercises and eat a healthy breakfast. 

Having been back on the morning danish pastry train the past few weeks and very unlikely to stop anytime soon, the water and stretching parts seemed like something doable for me.

I generally drink water first thing in the morning anyway, so it was the stretching that interested me. One thing I'd like to add, avoid adding lemon and lime to your water! It wrecks your teeth, and I had to find out the hard way. I was lucky that my hygienist saved me a ton of trouble later on by warning me about this before it was too late.

When it comes to mobility, I don't know about you, but for some reason, I wake up stiff as a board in the morning. My spine genuinely feels like a rod of cement, with lots of clicks and pops, with every slight movement. 

Being in my mid-thirties, perhaps it's a sign of getting older and my body taking longer to wake up. Saying that I wanted to try at least two of the stretches, this chap demonstrated in the video to see if I could yield some of the benefits he claimed.

So for two weeks, I tried a mini-experiment. After waking and brushing my teeth each morning, I would roll out my yoga mat, get my stopwatch, and stretch. I decided to try the downward dog variant (from the video) and the squat variant (from the video).

I had to do these for 60 seconds each—a total of two minutes of work. After the first go, I decided to add a second set for both, which made a massive difference to how much looser I became from the stretches.

I thought about adding a third-round but knew that if I made it any longer or added anything more to it, I would most likely skip doing it each morning. 

As I predicted, it wasn't all plain sailing. Some of the mornings, the lazy, can't be arsed Pat would say, "yeah, take it easy, have a bit more of a lie-in." Thankfully, I was right about not making additions to the routine because I knew what I had to do was short and relatively easy. I made the time to do it no matter how I felt, and as with all habits, the more I practised it, the easier it became. 

Benefits wise, I was amazed at how only 4 minutes of stretching energised me each morning. It dramatically improved my mood, and the most crucial positive was the removal of any back stiffness and pain. 

How You Do This At Home

I was fortunate to practice the exact exercises from the video, but these may not be possible just yet for many readers. So I want to give you a couple of options to try at home and create your very own morning stretch routine. (And one that you will hopefully stick to).  

The formula:

60 seconds total for stretch A

60 seconds for stretch B

Repeat twice

Note: If you have a stretch that you can do on both sides, spend just 30 seconds per side if you wish. 



Elevated Cat Stretch- 60 seconds

Pigeon Stretch- 30 seconds per side

Two Rounds

Bretzel Stretch- 30 seconds per side

Childs Pose- 60 seconds

Two Rounds

Wall Chest Stretch- 30 seconds per side

Stretching Piriformis- 30 seconds per side

Two Rounds


Downward Dog To Cobra Variation (1:29 in the video)- 60 seconds

Deep Squat With Rotational Reach- 60 seconds

Two Rounds

Spiderman Lunge With Rotation (Alternating)- 60 seconds 

Thoracic Bridge (Alternating)- 60 Seconds

Two Rounds

Adductor Rock- 30 seconds side

90/90 Active Leg Rotations- 60 seconds

Two Rounds


Given how little time this took each morning, I'd recommend giving this a try, even if only for three days in a row. Not only will it lift your mood, get your day off to a great start, but it will likely help to add longevity to your body.  

I'd love to hear how this works for you, so feel free to email me with any progress updates should you give this a go. 

Yours In Health


Getting Ready To Exercise Again


It's been a long time coming, but we will all be soon getting back to some normality. I am looking forward to getting back to "proper training" and classes. I certainly feel softer and weaker than I did pre Christmas.

In this newsletter, I want to advise you on ways to prepare yourself to go back to a regular gym routine, laying a solid foundation for yourself whilst avoiding injury and getting off to a flier.

Greasing The Groove

The big mistake most of us will make when we go back to the gym will be comparing our current selves with what we could do before.  If we try and do the same things at the same intensity as we did months ago, we will likely pick up an injury or two. 

The key to avoiding this is permitting ourselves to go at a lower intensity than we used to, focus on the process rather than where we think we should be and drop our ego. 

In the weeks running up to training in gyms again, we can lay a solid foundation. I'd suggest you focus more on movement quality and exercises that will allow you to do build on this. For instance, exercises to strengthen your core, stretches to loosen your hips and mobility drills to keep your upper spine mobile will yield many benefits later.

Core Exercises

  1. Plank: build up to a 30-second hold. Anything longer is unnecessary, in my opinion. (30 seconds x 2)

  2. Bird Dogs/ Supermans. Your focus should be on keeping your spine a stable as possible. Think about pushing your leg low and long, and reach the opposite arm as far as you need to as long as you keep stable. (10 a side x 2)

 Hip Stretches

  1. 90/90 stretch (30-60 seconds a side x 2)

  2. Adductor stretch (30-60 seconds x 2)

Upper Spine Mobility

  1. Side-Lying rotations (10 reps x 2)

  2. Thoracic twists (10 reps a side x 2)

Rest as needed between exercises

With Access To Weights

If you are one of the lucky ones who have some weights lying around at home, this is also an excellent time to rebuild your exercise foundation. 

Regardless if you prefer to do a focused hour of exercise or little bits throughout the day, practising the movements with weights will get you ready for when you get back into the gym.

For example, I would typically do 3-4 sets of exercises in my more regular training routine. In the current circumstances at home, two sets are usually all I do. This way, I never skip a workout as I know it won't take long, it won't be hard, and I will benefit as my body remains used to the stimulus of resistance exercise. 

If I want to make it harder, I slow my reps down using "Tempo" or give myself a little less rest. (For those that know me training-wise, I love my rest, so it's rare I do this, if I'm honest). 

What About Cardio?

If you have a Peleton at home, you are one of the lucky ones and have likely been doing online classes for the last year. Good stuff, and keep at it!

For the rest of us, getting out for a walk each day or taking a light jog will be all we need. So my advice here is to start slow, start small and focus on consistency. Even a walk to the end of your road is a great starting point.

Having injured my back last summer from doing the classic zero to hero with running, I can now jog for a maximum of 20 minutes before my body starts to give me warnings signs that I am doing too much. I had to start with a 5-minute run initially, aiming for 3x a week, built that up to 10 minutes, to 15 minutes and now 20 minutes. In the beginning, I felt like I was wasting my time, but it was only later that I realised how important those first 5 minute runs had been. 

They built my confidence in running pain-free; they built up my cardiovascular capacity gradually and, most importantly, got me in the habit of taking the time to run on alternative days.

You could try sprints also, as they are great for fat loss, but depending on your injury history, you will be on the riskier end of exercise choices due to their impact.

Personally, the idea of being in the same spot after being stuck all day indoors doesn't appeal to me. I enjoy the various scenery, people watching and listening to music with running and walking. 

However, if you would like to try sprints, I would highly recommend looking into how to do "Tempo Runs", a more intelligent and safer way to prepare yourself for sprints.


Whatever you decide to do, in the build-up to gyms reopening, take it slow, focus on movement quality and do something you'll likely be able to do every couple of days. 

Essentially, "Make it so easy for yourself; you can't say no to it.". 

Yours in health.


Discovering The Resilience Project

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On my last visit to the physio, Reece recommended an audiobook to me. Having recently got into the "Happiness Lab" podcast; this sounded right up my street.

An Australian school teacher called Huw Van Cuylenburg speaks about his life story, his passionate love of cricket, and how he became a teacher, including a transformational teaching experience in India. This enlightenment was what piqued my interest. 

What I wish to share with you today are my takeaways from this audiobook. I will do my best to avoid too many spoilers, as I would recommend anyone listen to this. I haven't had an audiobook make me smile, want to cry and even burst out laughing whilst taking a walk in the park. 

Without spoiling too much, I will warn you that the first chapter is pretty heavy going in terms of his family's challenges as he grew up, but it lightens up pretty quickly after that. 

Gratefulness, Empathy, Compassion (GEM)

During his time teaching in India, Huw was blown away by how happy the children in his school were. These kids were the poorest of the poor in Nepal. They were lucky to go to school; few of them even had shoes and mostly slept on the floor each night. 

Despite their circumstances, they were exceptionally happy. With the growing levels of anxiety and depression in young people in the west, Huw, fascinated by his students' happiness, decided to dig a little deeper. There was one child in particular who became a favourite of Huw's. "Stanzen" was always smiling, always enjoying himself and making sure others around him were having a good time too. 

In Huw's first days at the school, he accidentally bumped his head on a door frame. Stanzen took it upon himself to "pad" (with whatever he could find) not just that door frame but all the door frames in the school, so his new schoolteacher would avoid banging his head again. He stayed after school to do this without telling his new teacher. Huw was astonished at the lengths this young man went to to make sure his teacher was "ok". 

On another occasion, young Stanzen was playing on a dilapidated swing that looked like something from Chernobyl. There was nothing there but metal chains and a frame. Yet Stanzen looked to be having the time of his life! He asked Huw, "how cool is "dis"? Do the children have things like "dis" in Australia?". Thankfully Huw was smart enough not to pull his smartphone out and show him pictures of the acres of playing fields, athletic equipment and high tech gadgets. "Yes, Stanzin, we have swings like this is Australia too". 

Stanzin replied, "I am glad, sir. It's great that the kids in Australia can have as much fun as I do on this". 

You can already see what a legend this little Stanzin was. 

My final story is of Stanzin playing cricket during break time. Now for anyone that knows cricket, India is the one place in the world where cricket is like a religion. And considering how many of the children wanted to play cricket, getting to bat was a big deal.

One break time, Stanzin was batting and doing very well, scoring lots of runs. Most kids would have been desperate to have a bat for as long as he did, so he was in a very envious position.  

Suddenly Stanzin noticed a girl on her own, not interacting with anyone and looking sad. He immediately put down his bat so someone else could have a go and made his way over to give the girl some company and someone to play with. 

That act alone brought a tear to both Huw and my eye. 

We can learn from Stanzin that he naturally lived in a way where he was Grateful for what he had/ could do, empathetic and compassionate to those around him and on the other side of the world. 

He was extremely grateful for his ability to play on a broken swing. He was empathetic when padding the door frames so his teacher wouldn't hurt himself again. Stanzin showed great compassion that children in Australia could experience the same joy he did on his broken swing and make sure other children in his school felt included, and they mattered. 

These were only a few of the stories that showed how special little Stanzin was, many of which genuinely brought a tear to my eye.

In Conclusion

I loved these stories as they gave me perspective on how much we have here in the west, yet how overworked and unhappy we can be. 

If we are grateful for our "dis", whatever that means for us, show empathy and compassion to those we know and those we don't, not only can we make ourselves happy, but also those near and dear to us. 

Yours in health.


Three Stretches For Home

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In this newsletter, we are going back to the physical realm of exercise. Given that most of us have very little equipment at home and are sitting more than we care to admit, here are three stretches you can do at home to keep you limber.

The Modified Child's Pose 

This stretch was recommended to me by my physio during my neck and lower back rehab this winter. The modified child's pose opens up our lats (the big wing-like muscles on our backs), which helps create extension and mobility in our thoracic spine. (The segment of spine attached to our rib cage). This part of our body quickly becomes rounded, stiff and rigid the longer we sit. 

The benefits of this exercise include

  1. reducing tension in the back and neck

  2. improving thoracic mobility

  3. improved shoulder mobility

How To Do The Modified Child's Pose Stretch

Coaching tips

  1. Find a comfortable position for your knees and hips far enough away from a sofa or coffee table with your wrists on the sofa/ table.

  2. Once in place, sink your chest and head gently towards the floor. The stretch should be gentle and not painful, particularly on the shoulders.

  3. Focus on breathing through the nose and out through the mouth, allowing the tummy and rib cage to fill up as needed.

  4. Hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds or 6-8 slow breaths.

  5. Move onto the next stretches and perform this 2-3 times. The second and third round will feel more impactful than the first.

The Bretzel

The Functional Movement Screen popularized it. A full-body stretch we can do on the floor. I'd recommend having yoga blocks or pillows to support your knee and head. 

The benefits of this stretch

  1. Improved thigh and hip mobility

  2. Improved thoracic mobility

  3. Nice stretch for the lower back

How To Perform The Bretzel Stretch

Coaching Tips

  1. Make sure you have a pillow under your head and one to support your knee.

  2. Lie on your side with your top leg at 90 degrees, resting on the pillow.

  3. Bend your trailing leg's foot, and either using your hand, a towel/ stretching strap, pull the "laces" part of your foot towards your bum until you get a gentle stretch. You can do this with palms up or palms down grip depending on preference.

  4. Inhale through the nose and as you exhale, rotate your head and shoulder towards the floor behind you.

  5. Go only as far as comfortable and make sure your top knee stays on the floor throughout.

  6. Follow the tips from the page linked for more detail on perfect execution.

The Pigeon Stretch

One of my favourite stretches due to how easy it is and the immediate relief it gives you. A very popular yoga exercise as well as a cool-down exercise for many sports. 

The benefits of the pigeon stretch:

  1. Good stretch for the glutes/ hips

  2. Used in conjunction with the other stretches is excellent for keeping lower back pain at bay.

How To Perform The Pigeon Stretch

Coaching tips

  1. Use a pillow/ yoga block to place next under the hands/ glutes to maintain an upright optimal posture.

  2. Fold one knee under you and leave the trailing leg "long". Try to keep your hips square/ facing forward. (This will vary depending on how stiff you are).

  3. Aim to get the knee as close to 90 degrees or just beyond to get the best stretch. Be mindful of placing too much emphasis on bending the knee, causing any discomfort. The target area is the glute.

  4. Play around and feel what is best for you regarding knee position.

  5. Stick your bottom out and try to be as upright as possible during the stretch. When you feel ready, bring your belly button gently down towards the front knee and slowly back.

  6. Stretch for 30-45 seconds or 6-8 deeps breaths per side.


Yours in health.


Re-Finding Hppiness

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The newsletters' current theme has been about making the best of lockdown, both exercise and nutrition-wise. This week, I would like to focus the lens over mental health.

The previous 6-8 weeks, has been a real challenge for most of us. I'd argue that the last 2-3 weeks have been the hardest, given how dark and miserable it has been here in the UK. 

Many of us are out of sync right now. We have irregular schedules, too much work, or too little. Also, the lack of social interaction can make us feel isolated and lonely. 

We set goals for ourselves and are always trying to move the needle in the right direction for career, family and health. 

Our addiction to progress tends to "push us through" the stress and discomfort to get to the next level. Given that the world is in a strange place right now, the ability to achieve progress is much harder than it was before. 

Slow progress or stagnation can be very distressing for us. We feel like we are falling behind; life is passing us by, and ultimately, we are failing. 

Firstly if this, does sound like you, then know you are not alone, and actually, we are all in this together. 

I want to share an excellent recommendation made to me by my long term client Andrew. 

A podcast called "The happiness Lab". A heartwarming podcast on behavioural psychology with a focus on what makes us happy. It is science-based with a healthy sprinkling of the hosts' personal stories and snippets of interviews with guests on the podcast.

Listening to just a few episodes has already improved my outlook on life, mental health, and enthusiasm. 

My favourite episode talked about a study carried out using four daily habits to improve our overall happiness. I like most about these habits, they are simple, sustainable and certainly something we can do each day. 

To summarise, here they are:

  1. Sleep 8 hours each day. We all "know" that sleep is good for us, but how consistently are we getting it? Have you practised a sleep ritual? Here are some tips from Matthew Walker on how to get a better nights sleep.

  2. Meditate for 10 minutes a day. Try Headspace or Calm. These have certainly helped me practice more regularly. You can choose your meditation focus for and for how long.

  3. Perform an act of random kindness each day. You can do this for a stranger or a friend. Expect nothing in return and do it for the sake of it.

  4. Keep a grateful log. Write down five things you are appreciative of every day. These can be as simple as having warm water, a roof over your head, or even Netflix. Whatever resonates with you the most that day.

The idea of all of these is to retrain and reshape your brain to develop happiness, empathy and compassion. 

Suppose we reorganise our focus on things we can control, being ok with moving at a slower pace and practising daily habits that will make us happier. I'd argue, by shifting our focus onto these habits, then the strange journey we are all on right now will become more comfortable and perhaps even more enjoyable. 

I hope you found these tips valuable. I know I certainly did.

Yours in health.