Cody Rigsby understood the assignment: lose the workout gear and have fun. On the set of his StyleCaster cover shoot in late August, Rigsby seamlessly slips in and out of designer clothes—a little Dries Van Noten here, a Bottega Veneta moment there—with the ease of a star who’s taken center stage for years, soaking in the supportive hoots and hollers of his team nearby as Britney Spears’ “Stronger” pulses in the background. “Hush, just stop,” the song crescendos. He freezes, balancing his statuesque frame on his tippy-toes while wearing sky-high SYRO disco platforms and a glittery Lucas Stowe tank. “OK, Cody! Who gave you permission?” I think to myself. Linda, Cindy, Christy, and Naomi would certainly be proud.
At 36, Rigsby’s style mirrors the self-growth and audacity required of someone with a household name. “I look back at some of my fashion choices and cringe,” Rigsby says, referencing the deep-V American Apparel tees and comfy UGG boots that had a “stranglehold” on him in the early-2000s, and when he first moved to New York City in 2009. “We didn’t need to show that much cleavage!” he jokes in his signature, hyper-animated tone, trailing off to describe what makes him feel most comfortable. “I like stuff that’s fun and colorful. Now, I incorporate more feminine aspects, but not to a point that it doesn’t feel authentic to me.”
Authenticity is a trait close to Rigsby’s heart. At Peloton, he’s achieved “if you know, you know” status as one of the brand’s most beloved instructors by simply being one thing: Cody. A former dancer for pop acts like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and Pitbull, Rigsby routinely clips in and out of the bike to inspire riders to find their inner confidence (their inner Cody, if you will) while enjoying an ass-kicking sweat session. Codyisms—his unapologetic, comical takes on pop culture, dating, and whatever else occupies his mind—render his classes marquee events, the reason friends turn to their group chats to ask, “Wait, please tell me you took Cody’s latest unhinged ride.” There’s a method to his madness, and he’s perfected it nearly a decade at the job.
Peloton exploded in popularity amid the pandemic, when a slate of top-talent so good and so entertaining found a hungry, dedicated global fan base at home. Yet Rigsby is one of few talents that have skyrocketed beyond the world of fitfluencers into the stratosphere of celebrity, where Hollywood is just one quick DM away. (It certainly helps that he’s easy on the eyes.) Rigsby cut his showbiz teeth alongside Cheryl Burke on Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars, and his engaging personality has since landed him in the same room as figures like Vice President Kamala Harris, Kelly Clarkson, and Pink. For Rigsby, though, success didn’t always seem plausible, not for a kid who grew up on food stamps with bouts of homelessness as the norm.
In 2014, as a baby trainee at Peloton, Rigsby says he bombed an important community ride, the final step required of trainers-to-be before officially teaching the public. “Do you remember that Tom Cruise movie Minority Report? I always compare teaching a Peloton class to Minority Report—you’ve got so many screens open, you’re doing a million things at once, trying to juggle all these different elements,” he says, explaining the “well-thought-out production” and logistical complications of leading a Peloton class, from the playlist to the motivational speeches required.
“I was like a fish out of water,” Rigsby says, pausing to dish one of his sermon-like Codyisms: “No matter how much preparation you do, sometimes you fail. But just like every other failure, you can’t let it have so much weight. Let it have its impact and learn from what you need to learn from; go back to the drawing board and figure it out.” Can someone etch that onto an Etsy tee?
Rigsby’s slow-burning yet explosive career at Peloton is just one subject explored in his debut memoir, XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness (out now). Part memoir, part self-help guide, and loaded with legit life advice I admittedly added to my vision board, the book is a delightful read for anyone with a sense of humor or in search of a heart-warming stocking stuffer. Across 16 cheekily titled chapters (“Dance, Dance, Evolution,” “Let It Go, Elsa”), Rigsby explores the silver lining behind traumatic moments from his childhood and adolescence—from growing up poor in California and North Carolina to coming out as gay, experiencing homelessness, battling grief, and reevaluating his complicated relationship with Cindy, his “cool mom” with various mental health struggles and, at times, drug addiction. Realness, sprinkled in with moments of levity, are XOXO, Cody’s beating heart.
“It felt very therapeutic,” Rigsby says of the cathartic writing process. “I wanted to go much deeper and be more intentional and share how I got here, but also what I’ve learned about myself and life in the past 36 years. Memories allow you to have a sense of gratitude. You forget the struggles and what really influenced you.”
Writing about his family was certainly a challenge. “I love and respect my mom and want to protect her. It’s hard to share stories that might bring up shame or guilt to someone that I’m really close with and love and have so much respect for,” Rigsby says. “But it’s important to share that dynamic—not to wag the finger at my mom and make her feel bad, but to share that these things happen and it’s possible to heal from it and develop a new relationship.” Another Codyism emerges: “And, most importantly, to accept people. We’re always trying to change people to fit our narrative. The more we can give grace and love to the people in our lives, the more we can accept ourselves, give ourselves grace, and love who we are, flaws and all—thank you, Beyoncé.”
Though he addresses dark moments in his personal life, the book is lighthearted in spirit. After all, it’s dedicated to none other than Britney Spears: “Without your gyrating hips and diamond-encrusted G-Strings, I wouldn’t be the man I am today,” he writes.
Rigsby’s professional evolution is impressive. You know that Madonna song “American Life,” in which she raps about her entourage? (“I got a lawyer and a manager, an agent and a chef / Three nannies, an assistant, and a driver and a jet / A trainer and a butler and a bodyguard of five…”) Well, Rigsby isn’t quite on Madonna’s level, yet his team today consists of an agent, publicist, Peloton producers, and a talented right-hand wingwoman named Ren, whom he’s hilariously labeled “Gen Z Assistant” on social media. With photo shoots, press opportunities, an upcoming book tour, and a full slate of weekly Peloton classes, Rigsby’s life is b-u-s-y, and 10-, 12-hour weekdays are par for the course.
So when he appears on Zoom for this interview, it’s from the comfort of his recently-purchased Fire Island Pines home, a 1960s architectural gem that’d fit right into any Tom Bianchi coffee table book. “This past month has just been nonstop,” he tells me one Tuesday morning, (respectfully) sounding a bit groggy while dressed in an oversized Adidas hoodie and a neon orange cap after a weekend of “chaos and fun” on the island. “During the summer, I give myself the space to do what I want and enjoy life. It’s kind of a work hard, play hard mentality. I know that going out and dancing doesn’t seem like a recharge, but I rely on my social battery and other people’s energy to remind myself to let loose and go back into the world and give back.” Sometimes, the best recharge is a little “Padam Padam” dance party.
To avoid burnout, he says he’s intentional with his me-time, which is typically reserved for Saturdays and Sundays with friends and his boyfriend, Andres. “When I think of Fire Island, I think of my chosen family and having a lot of fun. I wanted to make sure there was enough space and it felt like home for the important people in my life so we could all share this.”
For Rigsby, a well-earned reset is important. While fitness instructors are often perceived as superhuman for their chiseled abs and perpetually good mood, he’s not made of steel: “I really do love to work out and be healthy. People always expect us [instructors] to all be people who love to wake up at 6 and eat only healthy, amazing things. I kind of hate that question: What’s your diet like? It’s all over the place, and I’m as inconsistent as you are at times. I don’t have it all figured out.”
Financial stability is a subject heavily explored in XOXO, Cody—”I live in fear that any money I’ve made will evaporate into a puff of smoke,” he writes—and though he may not have it “all” figured out, Rigsby uses his rags to riches tale to encourage others to believe in themselves and get that bag. “It’s easy to say that money can’t buy you happiness, but whoever said that never slept on the floor of a motel for twelve months,” he writes. “They never juggled three separate shift jobs at one time just to pay rent. Money may not buy happiness, but it can certainly buy peace.”
His personal motto? “If it isn’t making me richer or thicker, it’s time to go.” In Rigsby’s world, we should all live with “the fee is going up energy”—the idea that it’s always smart to ask for more, be it at work, with friends, from a loved one, or yourself. When I ask what his next rich bitch purchase will be, he answers thoughtfully: “I feel like I’m over rich bitch buys and I’m more inclined to be smart with my money and invest in big purchases.” A pool for the Fire Island home is also on deck, he says.
Rigsby doesn’t take his success for granted, and he’s aware it all goes back to his devoted Peloton following. “People have a really strong and personal connection to me because the experience that we have on the bike really feels one-on-one,” he says. “We’re working towards fitness goals or mental health goals. To multiply that, just the chemical release of endorphins from a bike makes this really special connection between members at home and their favorite Peloton instructor. It’s always nothing but good energy.”
It’s why he feels compelled—indebted, even—to politely greet fans who grow weak at their knees when spotting him IRL. “Dancing With the Stars took me from the minor leagues into the major leagues. I am famous—it does feel weird to say that sometimes. But it’s not overwhelming. It feels very manageable and it also comes with the gig,” he says. “Sometimes I just have to be Mickey Mouse. You go out into the world and people want pictures and they want to talk. It’s what I signed up for.” He continues, “A lot of people don’t have a job where people are constantly telling you the impact you have, or that you’re doing a good job.”
“Cody has a remarkable story and really did this on his own,” says Jenn Sherman, Rigsby’s Peloton colleague and the brand’s first cycling instructor. “He came from humble beginnings. He worked his ass off. It was not just a fluke. And he deserves all of his accolades. He’s not only a fantastic trainer, but he brings such enjoyment to working out.” She speaks highly of him for 10 minutes straight. “He’s the gay man that every single straight woman and man wants to be best friends with. And guess what? I get to be his best friend, so I’m lucky.”
“He’s one of the people that I looked up to when I first came to the company eight years ago, and I still pay that respect to Cody,” says Alex Toussaint, a fellow Peloton cycling pro who admires Rigsby’s truthfulness. “He’s going to tell you exactly what you need to hear whether you like it or not, but he’s always going to give you insight and direction on how to get the best out of it—he’s not gonna sugarcoat it.”
Part of why Rigsby loves his job is access to powerful, transformative stories from his riders. Take this poignant vignette: “This straight man who looked like he probably rode Harleys or owned a biker bar came into class and I almost got really close to tears because I was so taken aback by his story. He lost his wife to brain cancer and then gained a lot of weight through the grieving process, then he found Peloton and lost the weight that he took on from grieving. The story there isn’t, ‘OMG, this guy lost a lot of weight.’ The story there is that he found himself again and found something through what I offer as a place of release from a really traumatic event. That was really impactful.”
It’s the stuff of talk show material, a segment that’d make Oprah or Maury or Drew cry. “I could see Cody having a hilarious talk show, like an Andy Cohen vibe, and I can see him hosting red carpets and getting into acting,” Sherman says, asserting his potential as a talk show host. “I see a very, very bright future for Cody. Whatever he throws himself into, he’s gonna slay. I see him on the big screen.”
As he writes in XOXO, Cody, Rigsby would have once melted at the possibility of dancing for Jennifer Lopez, an icon he’s auditioned for to no avail. Today, though, his mindset has shifted. “I can’t keep up with J.LO! I’m too old for that,” he says. “These knees cannot keep up with J.Lo doing a salsa number, a backflip, and standing on a stripper pole. Let’s leave that to J.Lo. I’ve hung up my dancing shoes.”
Considering his fee is going up, ladies and gentlemen, Rigsby is manifesting something much bigger. “I really want to be on that judges panel on RuPaul’s Drag Race. We’ll get there! But just as a guest judge. I don’t think I have the impact or power yet to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ts Madison, Carson Kressley, Ross Matthews, and Michelle Visage.” Hm. His 1.3 million Instagram followers would probably beg to differ.
Photographer: George Chinsee
Stylist: Charlie Ward With See Management
Groomer: Lynsey Buckelew