Stef Corgel was leg-pressing the coffee table when she was 8 months old. Nicknamed “Manhattan Beef” by her parents, she practically ran by her first birthday—when the majority of kids are just starting to walk. Throughout her younger years, Stef stayed laser-focused on both academics and sports. AYSO soccer, Manhattan Beach Youth Basketball and Little League softball kept her busy throughout the school year.
Summers were filled with serving as a Junior Lifeguard, which provided a healthy mix of cross-training and knowledge of ocean safety. She is proud to have been a Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguard for the maximum nine years, including two years as a prestigious cadet. By 18, she qualified to become a lifeguard for the county.
“The feeling of camaraderie in the towers and on the sand is indescribable for me,” she says. “When watching a sunset from the tower at the end of a long day, I still pinch myself. This is real life. This is my home.”
Stef played Division 1 basketball at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and also Division 2 at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. There she majored in kinesiology—the study of human movement and how it impacts health and well-being. After college, she played basketball overseas.
Although her goal was to pursue medical school, her path changed one summer day while recertifying for the lifeguard program as a sophomore in college. While running on the beach, she was scouted and advised to connect with an athletic modeling agency.
Working as a model for the last 13 years, she is proud to represent the exercise line Vuori, which has a store in downtown Manhattan Beach. “If anything is unique about me, it is my philosophy of being exactly where you are and feeling it all,” she shares.
These days, Stef is not only a model but also a fitness trainer, entrepreneur, athlete, spokesperson, content creator and influencer. She says that as a fitness professional, “I can sit and preach the importance of training effectively, proper nutrition, sleep and continued education, but I have found that the best way to make an impact in someone’s life is to simply be a good listener.”
When she began her career, diversity was not common in advertising. Stef is proud to represent women of mixed-Asian descent. She is also excited to be on the cusp of the integration of different cultures into marketing and advertising campaigns.
Stef has modeled on campaigns for many major sportswear companies and sports tech and fitness equipment brands. With the prominence and ever-evolving nature of social media, her sports modeling career has morphed into a hybrid sports model-influencer job. She has more than 50,000 followers on Instagram.
“You never know who you are impacting,” she says. “Especially in times of self-doubt and questioning my purpose, I’m reminded to think bigger than self and focus my efforts on making one person’s life healthier—body and mind.”
Although she is determined and compassionate, she is also grounded and has not let her career go to her head. “I truly delight in my own imperfections, and I’m motivated when I see areas where I can grow or help another reach their potential. I’ve allowed the perfectionist ways of my early adulthood to melt away at this point.”
Stef is especially proud of the opportunity to impact women’s lives through athletic campaigns and teaching virtual fitness classes. She has taught classes in front of 10,000 women at Tone It Up live events. When a fan stops her on the street and says, “Thank you for helping me stay fit throughout quarantine,” she feels the true impact of how her work helps others.
Little by little, she has started to phase out of modeling and into new entrepreneurial endeavors. In addition to being a virtual and in-studio fitness trainer, she is also the co-owner of natural deodorant company Hume Supernatural and a brand ambassador for several sustainable wellness companies.
“It is a very rewarding feeling to know that all of my years spent as a model were actually crash courses in business and advertising,” she says.
This summer she will launch her first swimwear collaboration centered around active, outdoorsy women. It consists of mix-and-match pieces designed to fit and flatter women in all the ways they move.
Stef’s friends and colleagues call her the Energizer Bunny. Whether she’s running around the South Bay, lifting weights, doing hot yoga, swimming laps, surfing ankle biters, struggling through reformer Pilates or hiking with friends, she’s always having fun.