Our Love Squad #showuswhatsreal campaign aims to show the real and imperfect side of fitness. From social media influencers and fitness gurus to everyday people trying to live a healthy lifestyle, #showuswhatsreal is a call to action for us all to accept that our flawed and imperfect selves are worth celebrating!
Our next #showuswhatsreal Q&A is with Stef Corgel (@stefcorgel), an NSCA strength and conditioning coach and fitness model working and living in both Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles. Stef played college basketball at UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Monterey Bay, and went on to play professional basketball overseas with Italy’s La Spieza.
At what point did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in fitness? How did your background in sports inform your decision?
I was a reckless young competitor that would willingly “take one” (or five) for the team. After one too many ankle sprains, I felt right at home in my local physical therapy building and decided I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. I was a ten-year-old taping my own ankles and devising treatment plans for my teammates’ injuries in order to get them back on the field ASAP. Over time, my incessant curiosity about sports medicine remained, but the questions I asked developed a new tone from, “how do I treat this?” to “how can I prevent this from happening altogether?”
It was not until my freshman year of college that my light bulb moment occurred. I wanted to train professional athletes to be their strongest, healthiest, and most dynamic! They’d win championships because of how we’d prepared during preseason. Male athletes, female athletes, teams…everyone and anyone at the elite level, I’d hand them the looking glass to view their true potential.
You’ve been an athlete for most of your life. How do you think that contributes to both your training and coaching style?
Athletes understand that greatness is a process. As a lifelong athlete, I’ve learned that as hard as I am on myself, there needs to be an equal or greater amount of positive self talk. There has to be a healthy balance of being humbled and dusting yourself off with a smile as if to say, “Ok, let’s go again!”
It’s the attention to details that make a huge difference. When training clients, I emphasize that each drill is a mini victory that will add up to a giant celebration in due time. If my clients focus on one perfect rep, one quick sprint, one sweaty high-five, one day they’ll look up and realize their inch-by-inch resilience has improved their entire quality of life.
As a part of Love Squad’s #showuswhatsreal campaign, we are attempting to show the real, not-so-perfect side of fitness.
Describe an instance when you failed to hit a personal goal (fitness or otherwise), or felt yourself losing focus. When you do have those moments, how do you re-focus?
I have the tendency to take on way too much at once. It’s a demanding world out there! As a coach, model, frequent flyer, daughter, and friend, I know better than to stress myself out just to people please, but the overachieving athlete mentality pushes on. I’m a hypocrite at times! I preach to clients to be mindful about their bodies while I am rushing around on 4 hours of sleep!
To reset and reboot, I let myself get those Zzz’s–no alarms allowed! With a good night’s rest, a yoga class, a surf sesh, and activating full chill-mode at my favorite coffee shop, I’m brought back to earth and am prepared to give again.
Social media can be a powerful tool to inspire, particularly in the fitness arena. What do you see as the upsides and downsides of being able to share your lifestyle through this platform?
Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. I rely heavily on my Instagram to share my modeling portfolio and to collaborate with my inspiring role models in the creative industry. I have social media to thank for providing jobs for us fitness models!
While I am in awe of the rapid-firing knowledge that accumulates and spreads via social media, the quality of important wellness information becomes completely diluted or inaccurate altogether!
My rule? If the health or fitness related claim cannot be supported by scientific research, pay it no mind. Marketing schemes, shiny things, Photoshop, and filters—oh my! Beware the impossibly hot bikini-bodies you compare yourself to and which brands you trust to make you feel your best. When in doubt, consult a certified fitness professional, a medical doctor, or a registered nutritionist. Don’t be a lemming!
A common misconception about career fitness professionals is that they have an infallible, perfect diet and exercise regimen all the time! What do you do to treat yourself on off days?
I have the hungriest sweet tooth in all the land! My friends can vouch for me: I have a bar of dark chocolate with me at all times and if not, chances are I’ve already eaten it for breakfast.
My 1-2 days off of exercise per week are usually my cleanest eating days. On training days, I’m looser with my diet as long as I’m hydrated and eating a “rainbow” of nutrients to replace what I’ve lost. And yes, this includes dessert! Calorie counting drives me coo-coo. While I recommend it for certain clients, I do not partake.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their fitness journey who’s feeling scared to take the first step, what would it be?
Stick with those who lift you up! The sense of accountability will keep you showing up and getting great results. Let go of things that are not serving your unique, personal journey and appreciate the time spent with friends that share a common goal.
#showuswhatsreal #stefcorgel #lovesquad