Passion for Pilates

Alumni find success with local fitness business

Written by Sarah Hyde
Photography by Chris Joseph Taylor
April 25, 2012
It's been years since Alan, ’72, and Bonnie Cashman, ’73, sat in a Seattle University classroom. But running their recently opened Capitol Hill fitness center, Lab 5 Fitness, has them harkening back to lessons learned as students.

The Cashmans met as students at Seattle University in 1971—Alan was a business major and Bonnie studied psychology—and they’ve been together ever since. (The Cashmans’ roots at SU are deep, as Alan’s father, Ben, was the head of the political science department; Bonnie’s brother is a 1967 graduate and Alan’s brother Jeff a 1978 law grad.)

When the couple decided to start a new business, Lab 5 Fitness, it made sense for them to stay on Capitol Hill, having met here and lived on the Hill for the past 40 years.

The concept for Lab 5 Fitness came together several years after Bonnie experienced a herniated disc and suffered from various neck problems. She began Pilates classes in Palm Springs, where she and Alan live part of the year and fell in love with the exercise.

During a morning class, she was mesmerized by an older woman working out on a Pilates reformer machine. When she asked the instructor about her, she was amazed to learn that the woman was nearly 80 years old.

Back in Seattle, Bonnie was unable to find a Pilates class that offered the same benefits as the studio in California, so she bought a reformer and trained at home. “I couldn’t find … something that was high energy, fun and effective. I wanted to create something like that here,” says Bonnie. And Lab 5 was born.

“We love watching people’s mental and physical transformations, and seeing their confidence levels increase,” says Bonnie. “We’re not in the fitness business; we’re in the people business providing fitness, which is an unusual approach. Too many people forget to focus on the people.”

Lab 5, located not far from SU's campus on Broadway, is a comprehensive studio offering mat and reformer Pilates, yoga, stretch, bar and aerial conditioning classes. The star of the studio is the 10 Pilates reformer machines, custom-designed for lengthening and conditioning the body. Reformer classes are 50 minutes long with various focuses. Lab 5 memberships work like a punch card, allowing individuals to take advantage of the different class offerings, each personalized to accommodate various body types and physical limitations.

Alan and Bonnie believe that the experience they had at Seattle University helped shape their success.

“People who are attracted to Seattle University are people who are accomplished throughout their lives and who want to give back to the community because of what we got as students,” says Alan. “The things our parents taught us at home growing up were reinforced at Seattle University through the Jesuit teaching model.

Learn more about Lab 5 Fitness.

Lab 5 Fitness provides a unique spin on the pilates trend.
Bonnie, '73, and Alan Cashman, '72, inside Lab 5 Fitness in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.