Peloton's 'King of Quarantine' Cody Rigsby Takes Fear Out of Fitness

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday May 11, 2021
Originally published on April 22, 2021

Cody Rigsby
Cody Rigsby  (Source:Cody Rigsby)

Vogue called him Peloton's "King of Quarantine." Meet Cody Rigsby, the exercise giant's instructor whose streaming sessions have made him a breakout exercise star. He has been with Peloton for seven years, well before it grew to three million subscribers last year, and he has a loyal fan base he calls his Boo Crew. What's been key to his success, , is his "no-nonsense chats during his classes — which include not only cycling but also strength and cardio-based workouts — paired with his pop-leaning music tastes have made him a favorite teacher among Peloton's userbase."

Raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, by his single-mom, Rigsby's childhood wasn't without issues, such as their being homeless for three years. But he found solace in music and dreams of dancing in music videos. Although he wasn't able to take his first dance class until college, he was such a natural that he received a summer scholarship at the Broadway Dance Center in New York during college. In New York, he saw what his life could be like as an out gay man.

First he danced in gay clubs, then as back-up with such artists as Pitbull and Katy Perry, but he wasn't satisfied. Then a choreographer friend recommended him for a new startup fitness company seeking performers to be instructors. "In the seven years since, Rigsby has found the purpose he sought as a dancer, beaming his advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights into home gyms, basements and living rooms across the country," wrote Vogue. "I always think of the Peloton bike as a Trojan horse of diversity and acceptance," he says. "I want to be able to change people's hearts and open their minds to what a gay man is."

EDGE recently spoke to Rigsby about joining Peloton, his recent celebrity, and his love of pop divas.

Cody Rigsby  (Source: Instagram)

EDGE: Tell us who Cody Rigsby is?

Cody Rigsby: That is a loaded question, but I'll try to give you the CliffsNotes. I've lived in New York for over 11 years. I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. I moved to New York to pursue a career in commercial dance, but I also kind of fumbled around in fashion and a bunch of other freelance work that never felt right until Peloton came along.

EDGE: How did you become a Peloton instructor?

Cody Rigsby: After I was coming to a very unhappy and uncomfortable end in my dance career, I started to lean into fitness and honestly that's when Peloton happened in my life. It was kind of divine intervention, but really I was in the right place at the right time.

I've been at Peloton now for about 7 years. I've been here through the infancy. I've watched it grow, develop, and I have also watched the lives and the careers of my fellow colleagues blossom. It's been beautiful to share that journey with them.

I consider myself a fitness clown. I like to make sure that people leave my class having fun or having a good laugh and not taking things so seriously. Fitness for a lot of us is scary and it evokes a lot of fear. So, I always strive to take out that fear and make everyone feel welcome in my class. Oh, and by the way, I will beat anyone's ass in pop culture trivia.




EDGE: Do you practice your dance moves before a class?

Cody Rigsby: Oh no! I have no time for that. Everything that I do on the bike as far as just dancing and having fun is just for me. I love music, obviously. I trained as a commercial dancer, so that that's my foundation for teaching. Dance for me is a form of expression, and I love losing my myself in the music. So, the dancing on the bike is just improv.

EDGE: Did you expect fame to be a part of working with Peloton?

Cody Rigsby: For me, when I first started with Peloton it was just another gig. A way for me to make some money. I was getting tired of waiting tables. I needed to do something to bring in some consistent coin. Once I really settled into the job, I saw the vision that John Foley had set out for his company. Working here has allowed me to grow up, and it has pushed me to develop and change. Notoriety or being seen was never the big carrot in front of the wagon for me. It just became part of the job. I will say that ever since I was little, I have always been an extroverted person, and I do feed off some of the attention. I think that comes with the territory. I knew I was destined to have a platform and I'm happy that is with Peloton.




EDGE: Through your stories, your mom, Cindy, has become a mini-celebrity. How does she feel about it?

Cody Rigsby: It's funny cause I think she's just oblivious to it. So, now that we are both fully vaccinated, I'll be sharing more stories about her because we will be spending more time together.

EDGE: Where does your love for Britney Spears stem from?

Cody Rigsby: I have always been obsessed with Britney Spears ever since I was probably 12 years old. I remember going to a middle school dance and seeing the "Baby One More Time" video, and I just remember that being such a moment and being so captivated by it. After that I was just consumed with her. I loved all things Britney! Her concert was the first one I ever attended when I was 13 years old. To me, 2000 Britney is the best. No one can entertain like she did back then. There was just this raw energy that we were all captivated by. She always makes me feel so nostalgic, safe, and fierce.

EDGE: You have four spin bikes, so which pop divas are on them?

Cody Rigsby: Definitely, Britney! I think Madonna needs to be there because she is a workout-aholic, and I would love to see her in action, and I think she's an icon. Lady Gaga is a must. Can I have someone dead? If so, then Whitney Houston has to join us. She is one of my all-time favorites. What a class that would be!




EDGE: You seem to be an open book when speaking about your life, but is there any topics that you try to stay away from?

Cody Rigsby: No, not really. I'm a storyteller, and I get to control the story that I tell. There's no pressure on me to have to say something. I have this privilege to tell my story when I want to tell it. Before I talk about things on the bike or on social media, I have already processed it personally. So, I have already subscribed to the idea, and I am not reacting. I think sometimes when you share things out of reaction, it doesn't come out right. So, for me, there's nothing that I don't feel comfortable speaking about. I talk about my mom. I talk about my relationships and my loss. I am a pretty much an open book, and I think the superpower that I have along with a lot of my colleagues is the ability to tell stories and be vulnerable. When we share our vulnerability, it opens up others to their own vulnerability, and that's the key to acknowledging your strengths, your weaknesses, and what you need to change.

EDGE: What is your process for creating your playlists?

Cody Rigsby: It's different based on every ride and every different class that I teach. I always want to give a sense of familiarity in my pop ride. That's where you're really going to hear songs that you love and want to dance to. I usually share stories that I have a special connection to with the song. It's all always about the energy that the music brings.




EDGE: What does it mean to you to work for a company that celebrates diversity and inclusion?

Cody Rigsby: I am very fortunate to have the privilege to work for a company that celebrates all different types of people and gives me a platform to share my story. I think it's important to share my story in the context of the privilege that I have, and honoring those who came before me. I know that I can comfortably sit on that bike and be as gay as hell because people created that space for me. I think of people like Ellen DeGeneres, who lost her career in the 90s after coming out. I think back to the Stonewall riot and black trans women like Marsha P. Johnson who really did the work and fought for our rights. Activists like her, who fought for us and paved the way, gave us a platform to be our authentic self, and I stand on the bike knowing and celebrating those roots. I want to not only share my story as a gay man, but then also create space for those who are still marginalized within our community and to continue to hold a space for them and advocate for them as an ally.

For more information about Peloton, visit www.onepeloton.com and you can find Cody on Instagram @codyrigsby

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