If your idea of a post-workout treat is a high-protein shake or thick fruit smoothie, you’re not Hamid Haji.
He heads for the freezer to scoop himself some ice cream.
In fact, the karate sensei and yoga instructor who runs Pro-Fit Boot Camp in Port Moody with his wife, Kelly Pearce, loves the frozen desert so much he embarked on a mission to make his own.
Fitness and indulgence don’t have to be mutually exclusive, said Haji, who has been part of the city’s fitness scene for 20 years.
“You limit yourself but you don’t have to cut yourself off,” he said. “Limitation makes the rewards sweeter.”
Two years ago, Haji set out to make the best ice cream he could. He and Pearce toured artisanal ice cream shops around the Lower Mainland, sampling their wares, chatting with staff and customers, trying to deconstruct their secrets. Then the couple would put their findings and intuition to work in their kitchen and share the results with clients at their gym.
“They were our guinea pigs,” Pearce said.
Armed with their feedback, they’d head back on the road to source local, natural ingredients and return to the kitchen to experiment with new flavours and conquer new challenges, like concocting a vegan ice cream that doesn’t skimp on creaminess despite its lack of, well, cream.
At some point, Haji’s quest outgrew their counter and freezer space at home, so he and Pearce decided to convert a storage area at the back of their St. Johns Street gym into a white-tiled, stainless steel ice cream factory. Several weeks ago, they christened it Vashti Rose (www.vashtiicecream.com), after their eight-year-old daughter, and started offering the frozen fruits of their labour to the public, one or two scoops at a time.
For now, the ice cream shop is only open on weekends as health regulations don’t allow Haji and Pearce to operate it at the same time people are sweating their workout in the adjoining gym. But kids are free to burn off some of their ice cream-fuelled energy on the matted floor while their parents savour a scoop of salted caramel or cookies and cream at the expansive white countertop.
Haji said he and Pearce have developed more than 100 flavours but they put only 11 of them in rotation at a time. And they’re open to requests, which have already included toasted marshmallow, mint flake and even saffron.