TrueMan McGee turned a spring roll into a fitness tool. Now it's a business with aspirations to bolster a community in need.

Few résumés read like TrueMan McGee’s, who went from a high school wrestling star to a union sheet-metal worker, and then a non-traditional boot-camp fitness guru with a side hustle as guerrilla neighborhood chef. The part-time gig is now a full-fledged business – Funky Fresh Spring Rolls.

Few menus read like Funky Fresh’s: spring rolls – always grilled, never fried – swapping the cabbage, rice and carrots for American cafe staples such as sweet potato and black bean, buffalo chicken and kale, or the bacon-tomato-avocado stuffed chicken club.

“It just spoke to me,” McGee says. “Like, why has no one ever put different ingredients inside a spring roll? Never! I’m not a genius; it just made sense.”

What started as healthy handheld post-workout snacks for his clients soon boomed into the main attraction. In 2014, Funky Fresh broke into the farmers market circuit and by May of this year, McGee opened a counter-service space in The Shops of Grand Avenue.

A sister site is set to open in the eagerly anticipated Sherman Phoenix complex, tentatively scheduled for November. McGee calls Funky Fresh’s inclusion in this new public market space – the bank building destroyed by fire during the 2016 Sherman Park riots – “an honor.” McGee’s personal odyssey has grown to something larger indeed, a development that seeks to make positive economic and social impact in a community of color.

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TrueMan’s Tips

1. Have three go-to healthy meals for when life gets hectic. Hit all the right areas: greens and colors, lean proteins. “I’ll eat one buffalo and kale spring roll, and make a strawberry avocado cashew salad,” says McGee.

2. Be creative. Find ways to put healthy twists on traditionally unhealthy meals. “When I make burgers, they’re usually turkey, and I’m [adding] spinach, avocado, mushrooms. Find times when you’re OK replacing meats with things like portobello mushrooms and zucchini,” he says.

3. 10 minutes is all you need for a workout. Find time to invest in yourself: “See how many pushups you can do, or squats. When I was training, we used to do 10 minutes of burpees, and it feels like you’ve been working for an hour.”

4. Low-impact exercise can have long-term results. Take the stairs, walk, mow the lawn. It’s like saving pennies: Do it long enough and it’ll pay off.

 


“On a Roll” appears in the October 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning Oct. 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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