The Story of Flexcushion® ~ Derived from SUMO ~

Flexcushion® was invented by the CEO of SANTEPLUS, Naoaki (Nao) Sakata. Nao’s inspiration for the design came through his passion and love for Sumo Wrestling, which requires athletes to possess great flexibility and strength through the adductors and hamstrings for deep squats and wide angle splits. Nao was the captain of the Sumo Team at Rikkyo University in 1994, and later he became the Head Coach of the team 2017-2021.

Nao adored Sumo’s physical trainings such as SHIKO, TEPPO, SURIASHI, MATAWARI, the fundamental & required exercises for all Sumo wrestlers. While he was a college Sumo wrestler in 1990’s, he was struggling with Sumo Wrestling’s Matawari (splits) training. Experiments with various cushions led him to discover that it was easier to stretch when he lifted his hips more than two inches (the height of the straw rings of Sumo) off the ground. This led to further research and exploration and Nao Sakata developed the Flexcushion® in 2006.

Initially, he tried to launch “Sumo Workout™”, and Flexcushion® was a tool made for this workout. But Pilates teachers have found out that Flexcushion itself is useful. So, Nao decided to make Flexcushion® as a product.

Nao Sakata

With its angle, height, stability and dense composition, the Flexcushion® makes it easier to stretch the muscles surrounding the hips, while maintaining safe alignment throughout the body. ( Patent #7966679 in USA, Design patent in various countries).

Nao quickly discovered that many other athletes and individuals could benefit from his invention. As top experts in Pilates, yoga, fitness and athletic training began to adopt the Flexcushion, it gained a strong following; first in Japan, and now throughout the world. In 2011, it was named “Fitness Product of the Year” for Japan and today over 120,000 pieces have been sold in Japan alone.

Today, the list of athletes using Flexcushion is impressive and includes:

  • • All professional baseball teams in Japan and 6 teams in USA
  • • 20 professional basketball teams (Japan / USA)
  • • 30 professional soccer teams (Japan / Europe)
  • • Track and Field athletes (USA / Japan)
  • • Synchronized Swimming athletes (USA)
  • • Scores of competitive amateur athletes including runners, triathletes, soccer players, lacrosse players, gymnasts; any athlete looking for an “edge”.
  • • Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning (USA)
  • • Donald Chu’s Athercare Fitness & Rehabilitation (USA)
  • • Numerous health clubs and gyms in Japan, including Konami Sports, Central Sports, Anytime Fitness, Golds Gym, Tipness, etc.
Based on Matawari

Flexcushion® is continuing to grow in recognition and popularity, inspiring top industry experts to use it creatively in programming to highlight the use of the Flexcushion for fitness, flexibility and strength. Today, more and more top industry names have come to rely on the Flexcushion to provide flexible solutions for fitness, Pilates and yoga.