Gerry Costa was born and raised in Rio. He grew up a diehard surfing enthusiast, so it's not surprising that he now spends a lot of his time in Hawaii, where he's known as "Kid Peligro." He was given the nickname back home, in his tight-knit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu circle. He began as the smallest and least threatening kid in his gym, but he's been a black belt for more than 17 years.
And while surfing and Jiu-Jitsu are still his high priorities, these days 62-year-old Peligro (who doesn't look a day over 42) is best known for being one of the top trainers on the North Shore, where he's getting a bunch of today's surfing stars hooked on Ginastica Natural.
Ginastica Natural is heavily inspired by Jiu-Jitsu, the Brazilian martial art, and Hatha Yoga, both of which use only body weight instead of workout equipment.
Peligro was introduced to Ginastica Natural by its founder, Alvaro Romano, who researched movements of primitive humans. The two met as teenagers, but later reconnected on the North Shore. Kid now splits his time between California and Hawaii, and when he's not teaching Ginastica Natural, he's usually writing about it on his blog.
Not surprisingly, more and more of his students are world class surfers, and he adapts his workouts to meet their unique needs. World Champs Kelly Slater and John John Florence are just a few who've been benefited from his techniques, but they weren't the first.
"The first surfer I started training was Sunny Garcia," said Peligro. "He was out of the water at the time, so we were in the gym a lot more. It was working for him and people started to take notice." Peligro has been practicing the technique for over 15 years.
"Back then, people didn't know what Ginastica Natural was," he explains. "Fred Patacchia told me that he would get made fun of. People just didn't understand it." But after seeing the results, the unorthodox approach is catching fire among surfers.
Flexibility is a big component of Ginastica Natural, in which surfers put themselves in awkward positions so that it feels a little more natural in the lineup. Peligro explained, "It's so rewarding to see these guys getting better in the water. This is the first year that John John didn't get hurt. It's just amazing."
Peligro works out of Sunset Beach Jiu-Jitsu. You can see a full class schedule here.