There is a new measure of well-being and it’s called the pancake split

Like all those sectors in constant evolution, even that of fitness is not exempt from fads and more or less passing trends that influence people's needs desires and behaviour. For some time now, the East has been playing an increasingly important role in defining directions and trends in wellness, and the latest "fitness mania" comes from Japan.

Eiko, queen of the pancake split

She was an aerobics instructor, now she is a global phenomenon. Walking around the streets of Osaka it is not uncommon to come across someone who tells the story of the “Queen”. But the queen so much gossiped about in the Japanese metropolis has nothing to do with the royal family.

Her goal is to teach everyone to do a split, and the almost mythical aura that permeates every conversation about her seems to demonstrate that she is succeeding in her aim.

Code word: flexibility

Like any success story worthy of a mention, it all begins when the protagonist is in trouble. Up until her twenties, Eiko's job had been that of the aerobics teacher, but when her interests shifted towards yoga, a significant problem emerged: her body was not very flexible and practicing some of the exercises she intended to teach was difficult.

This was the fuse that ignited in Eiko the desire to do something to improve her degree of elasticity. She started to study the type of stretching exercises that would have helped her to be able to perform a pancake split, or a split performed bringing to the ground also the upper part of the body.

On the ground of her personal experience, and having achieving the desired result, Eiko developed a method that was immediately very successful among her students. The promise was ambitious: anyone could learn to split in just one month.

Everybody wants to do the split

Today Eiko's method is at the centre of a book that has sold over a million copies, while her videos on YouTube have more than six million views. There's no doubt about it: Eiko is a real star.

Now, one question seems more than justified: are there really so many people who want to learn how to do the split? It seems so, although limiting to this the reasons for the incredible popularity of Eiko’s book "Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits: A Four-Week Stretching Plan to Achieve Amazing Health" would be reductive.

Learning to do the split, in fact, is never described in the pages of the book as an end in itself. Furthermore, considering all the benefits that Eiko attributes to the split - weight loss, improved body balance, injury prevention and mental serenity to mention a few  its placement on the best-seller shelf becomes immediately more understandable. It has to be said: a flexible body can work miracles.

The secret? constant exercise

Given that learning how to make a split has its (many) positive aspects, the idea of doing so in a single month does not cease to appear unlikely.

But in Eiko's words the secret to achieve this in such a short time sounds obvious: a few minutes of exercise, every day.

Her plan includes two minutes of training per day, to be spent in two exercises that remain unchanged for the duration of the program, plus a third in which you perform different stretching exercises or yoga positions every week.

Therefore, it is not surprising to imagine that the very simplicity Eiko’s method is at the origin of its success. In an article published by The Times in September 2017, a British author makes an interesting parallel between the work of Eiko and the training method of the English Olympic cycling team: both would be guided by the principle of marginal growth, which in the case of the split would sound more or less like

Stretch your legs out as much as you can, then stretch them out some more. Keep trying until you can.

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