It’s hard to image Cody Rigsby feeling small. But growing up in conservative North Carolina, the star Peloton instructor who won over the gym-starved masses with his effervescence during the darkest days of Covid often felt invisible.
Every class, his utmost goal is for riders to feel seen, wherever they may be pedaling it out.
“I always wanted to do things that are connected to purpose and fun. Thankfully, I get to do both of those things with the platform I have,” Rigsby told Outsports. “I get to motivate people on days when they don’t feel like their best selves. I get to help people discover who they are mentally, emotionally, physically. That gives me a lot of purpose and joy.”
Rigsby joined Peloton nearly nine years ago when he was looking to earn some extra money while trying to make it as a dancer in New York City. Unbeknownst to him, his side hustle would propel him to fitness and gay superstardom. Peloton grew from 1.6 million users in early 2020 to 5.9 million by June 2021.
Rigsby says he first realized he had made it when he got recognized on Fire Island.
“I’ve never seen myself as a quote-unquote ‘famous person,’ so I guess I’m adjusting to that still,” he said.
With 1.3 million Instagram followers, Rigsby is one of Peloton’s most popular instructors. Despite boasting movie star good looks — and a ripped bod to go along with them — he comes across as down-to-earth and relatable. Users who take Rigsby’s classes, for example, probably know he hates black licorice, but not as much as he loathes Justin Timberlake, whom he regularly reads to filth.
Rigsby is a card-carrying member of the #FreeBritney movement.
A critical voice has weighed in on the Britney discourse pic.twitter.com/cKguAK9a19— Meredith Blake (@MeredithBlake) February 18, 2021
This month, Rigsby is taking his cultural commentary to the stars themselves, with the launch of his new series, “LOL Cody.” The first episode features Rigsby riding alongside Trixie Mattel. Thankfully, they’ve gotten over their little beef from when Rigsby informed the Drag Race star that he thinks Shangela should’ve won All-Stars Season 3.
“Obviously she disagrees,” he said.
Queer pop mega-star Carly Rae Jepsen joined Rigsby for episode 2 of the four-part series.
Think of “LOL Cody” as an evolved version of Hoda & Kathie Lee, and other treadmill-viewing staples from a bygone era.
“From a fitness aspect, I think of this being steady cardio, low impact,” he said. “When I think of people who might exercise like that, I think of people who might do cardio and just watch TV or read a book. So why not create the entertainment aspect of it?”
It’s a smart idea, and natural platform for Rigsby, whose star keeps expanding. A big part of Rigsby’s appeal is his own life story, which includes many bouts with adversity. His father died of a drug overdose when he was just a few months old, and he was homeless at times, along with his mother.
Simultaneously, Rigsby was also trying to figure out his sexuality. It wasn’t easy.
“Even though I had a super progressive and accepting mom, growing up in a space where I heard the f-word all the time, or when guys were talking about something they didn’t like, they were calling it ‘gay.’ It’s kind of like all of these micro-aggressions we grow up with, and it pushes us into the closet,” he said. “It makes us feel small. Growing up in North Carolina, just made me small all the time, and made me feel like I wasn’t worthy.”
Rigsby moved to New York to train as a dancer, and take on any gig he could.
It was his gay awakening.
“What was super inspirational for me was experiencing my first Pride event, and that was New York City Pride,” he said. “I remember stumbling upon a rooftop party that overlooked the Stonewall, so you could literally see the parade going by. There was just something about people living authentically, living without fear, having a good time, celebrating who they were, that made me feel like I was at home, and that I belong.”
Rigsby found his joy. It’s safe to say he doesn’t feel small anymore.
“What keeps me going is knowing I’m showing up for thousands of people, and being some sort of light,” he said.