Underwater Photographer Keeps Fit at Parnassus

Published on February 16, 2018


Steve Peletz has a unique hobby. He likes to swim with sharks, humpback whales, and other denizens of the deep.

“As an undergrad at UC Berkeley I worked as a dive instructor,” Peletz said. “I’ve done thousands of dives and now I enjoy helping researchers tag sharks and photographing sharks, whales and manta rays while underwater.”

Swimming against strong currents underwater at depths of up to 120 feet can be a challenge but it’s more difficult when you are carrying an 11-pound camera with strobes.

“You need to be fit and well trained,” Peletz said. “It’s one reason I like working out regularly.”

Three to five times a week, you can find Peletz at the Millberry Fitness & Recreation Center at Parnassus. He lifts weights, takes a variety of fitness classes, and even swims with the fins and snorkel he uses on his dives.

“I live on Fourth Avenue so it’s an easy walk to the fitness center,” he said. “My wife did her residency at UCSF and I’ve been working out here for 15 years.”

Peletz usually arrives at the gym around 6:15am. “I build it into my schedule and usually see the same people working out every morning. The gym is very informal and people are very friendly. It’s really a big part of my life.”