It’s not surprising that a book titled Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits—a book about stretching and flexibility by Eiko, a Japanese yoga instructor—might raise eyebrows. But Sunmark Publishing, the original publisher of Marie Kondo’s wildly popular books on decluttering and tidying up, believes Eiko’s book may have the same sales potential as Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which sold nearly over 7 million copies worldwide, and Spark Joy, which sold more than 1.5 million copies.
Subtitled A 4-Week Stretching Plan to Achieve Amazing Health, the 192-page book was originally published in Japan. The book will be published in the U.S. by Rodale on December 5. So far publishers in a dozen countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and the U.K., have bought the rights to Splits.
Neil Gudovitz of the Gudovitz & Company Literary Agency, an agent who handles titles by authors who do not write in English, said he was skeptical when he first heard the book’s title. But he changed his mind when he saw the book’s success in Japan, where it sold more than one million copies and where Eiko’s instructional videos have racked up more than six million views on YouTube.
“This book checks the same boxes as Marie’s first title did when I first heard about it five years ago,” Gudovitz said, explaining that the book offers a unique and fun approach to solving a common problem: how to make exercise fun and interesting.
Anyone over 30, Gudovitz said, “who thinks that he or she is stiff or worse, and believes that doing splits is best left to 16-year-old gymnasts or yoga experts, should think otherwise.” The book even has a short story called “People Who Can’t Do the Splits Are Worthless,” which, despite its judgemental title, helps motivate readers to start the program.
Rodale senior editor Marisa Vigilante, who acquired the quirky title, described it as “arresting and fun.” She believes that stretching is the next U.S. fitness fad and that people are moving away from intense workouts like spin classes or CrossFit toward “something a little more gentle and restorative.” The book, she said, is perfect for a post-Kondo American lifestyle market that has embraced the Japanese approach to better living.
This, Vigilante said, “is a natural topic to introduce to them,” she said. “And we love the enthusiastic tone, simple plan, and the author’s offbeat short story. It just makes Splits all the more charming. This is a playful way to keep the body limber, toned, and healthy.”
Vigilante was pregnant when the manuscript arrived and ran through all the moves. “I found them easy to do,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to my normal exercise routine and doing the splits.”
Splits isn’t the only bestselling lifestyle title coming from Sunmark. Trunk Muscle Reset Diet, a book on losing weight by adjusting core muscles, by Kenichi Sakuma, a personal trainer for celebrities and models, has sold more than 500,000 copies four months after its release in Japan.
Sunmark international rights manager Ichiro Takeda said the Sunmark foreign rights team has already sold the title into four foreign markets. “Trunk Muscle looks to be our eighth million-copy bestseller, and it is on its way to help more people outside of Japan to get fit,” he said.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show updated sales figures for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.