The Peloton Instructor Redefines High Performance By Recharging
PHOTOS BY SARA HAILE
Cody Rigsby has a flair for drama and a lot of energy. A little bit of both of which he might bring from his work as a professional dancer to the classes he leads as a Peloton Instructor. Cody is outspoken in his views on pop culture and, well, everything, and includes them in his classes to mix up the sprints and climbs and maybe just make people smile a little. And that’s a lot of people smiling, because the classes beam out of the studio and into the homes of Peloton bike owners across the globe who are fans of the high-energy instructor.
He’s putting some fun and light the workouts he leads. And while he might not being shouting affirmations at riders as they pedal themselves into a fever state, he’s still taking them on a journey. But let’s not overthink it. As Cody would say, “It’s not that deep.”
We got to check in with Cody on a chilly February day in Brooklyn on the eve of the release of the Hill City x Peloton collection.
We put our usual Hill City-inspired question to him first, asking:
If you could do anything you wanted today, what would you do?
Hill City supplied that thought bubble of how you’d spend a perfect day and the gear (with the twist being that much if it was from the new Hill City x Peloton collection). Turns out a guy who keeps everybody’s energy up could use a day to recharge. We asked Cody what he thought about the new collection of active wear, what every New Yorker has to check out in the city and about his controversial thoughts on who the hottest Backstreet Boy is.
First off, how are you spending the day?
Keeping it cute in my neighborhood of Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn. I try to create a sacred day every week where I disconnect from my social media and to-do lists and do what I NEED to do.
This particular Sunday started with meditation. Then I got on my computer to find some new music. Music is a big part of my job, which means most of the time I am listening to songs for work. It was nice to just dive into new jams for myself. I am sure lots of them will make the cut for my next ride, but changing my intention really makes this joyful instead of just something I have to do.
Music is a big part of my job. It was nice to just dive into new jams for myself.
Even in the cold of winter, I like to be outside. It keeps me sane. I like to walk around my neighborhood and be with my mind. It really helps me figure out which thoughts are worth pursuing and which are just passing through.
How is recharging integral to peak performance?
Sleep is the key to success, as athlete or anywhere we need to perform our best. Over the past year, I have really made sleep a priority and I feel stronger, happier, and healthier for it. Your body is designed to need recovery, so take it. Turn off the screen and go to bed.
What do you think of the Hill City x Peloton collaboration gear?
I loved this collaboration. To be honest, if it weren’t for this collection, I wouldn’t have known about Hill City, but I’m glad I do now! I love how they take basics and elevate them with refined detailing. My favorite piece is the grey pullover hoodie.
How did you become a Peloton instructor?
I just celebrated 10 years of living in New York City. And in those ten years, I have lived many lives. I worked in production in the fashion industry, and sales and marketing for various start-ups. I worked as a cater-waiter, a brand ambassador for industry events, and most prominently, as a commercial dancer. I like to think that all of these set me up to take on the opportunity that became my role at Peloton.
A choreographer who I knew and was really into fitness forwarded me an email from a colleague of theirs looking for talent for a new at-home indoor cycling concept. I honestly jumped into this opportunity six years ago just looking to make some extra money while I auditioned. But I quickly realized that this opportunity had the potential to be life-changing. So I took all of those skills I learned in my life as a New Yorker and put them into action to shift my existence.
I approach teaching to thousands of people at a time through that lens.
Does it affect how you run a Peloton class to know all the people who are streaming it or watching it later?
The fact that my classes are streamed to our members around the world molds the way I plan and instruct my classes. I have to find a way to make the person at home feel inspired and connected to what’s going on in that room. When I am onboarding new instructors to our roster, I always tell them to look into the camera as if they are talking to someone they know and care about. And it’s authentic because each Peloton instructor truly does care about the members on the other side. I approach teaching to thousands of people at a time through that lens—by trying to focus on and connect with that one member who really needs it. And my hope with that approach is that every single person who is in my class feels that connection to me.
You are wildly entertaining in class talking about anything and everything besides the next hill climb (and people love you for it). Did you develop this coaching style over time or have you always been the same in front of the class?
I always say “it’s not that deep!” And that philosophy has been really valuable to me on and off the bike. If I can take the scariness or intimidation of a ride out of the equation for someone by talking about my favorite Britney Spears performance (which of course is “Oops! I Did It Again” at the 2000 VMAs, if you’re wondering), then I truly believe I’m helping them tackle the biggest hurdle to success, which is fear.
While we are on the topic, have you heard of the #FreeBritney movement?
Look! I just want Britney to be happy. I don’t know her real life like that. She has sacrificed a lot of her life so that we can have decades of bops and legendary live performances, and we should all be grateful for that.
How does “It’s not that deep,” relate to the workouts you lead?
This mantra is my reminder that when I am confronted with fear or overpowering anxiety, the story in my mind is much bigger than reality. I take a breath and root myself in the present and slay my workout.
How do you pick the music you play in class?
It depends on what class I am teaching, and what my mood is. I like my classes to have a common theme that ties the whole ride together. The theme could be the style of singers, or it can be a literal theme. One of my favorite classes I taught was a playlist of songs about ass!
What’s your favorite era-genre combination for class?
I love pop music. That’s what most people expect from me when they take my rides. Pop music is influenced by so many genres and has a sense of familiarity. It can make you dance, it can make you nostalgic, and it can even be silly. It has this way of reminding us that this workout is not that deep and can even be fun.
It has this way of reminding us that this workout is not that deep.
We heard you have a TED Talk at the ready about how Kevin is the hottest Backstreet Boy. We hope the TED Talk people come calling. But is that a controversial position?
It’s a very polarizing position as all fans of early 2000s pop culture secretly married their boy band crush in their head. He really won my heart when he wore a skirt to VH1’s Men Strike Back in 2000. I just love a man who says fuck it to gender norms.
Three things anyone who visits New York should see?
Lucky Burger: My favorite burger in town
Avant Gardner (Brooklyn Mirage): There is no better space for music and dancing. Clubs in NYC are a dying breed.
Brooklyn Museum: Their exhibits are typically dope
Three places anyone who actually lives in New York should go?
Avant Gardner ( Brooklyn Mirage): See above.
Mr. Sunday Party in Brooklyn during the summer: The crowd is a diverse mix of how I want the world to look
The Peloton studios of course
Three things you consider high-performance?
Britney Spears’ Blackout album. Have you heard the production?
“Gays” on their second ice coffee of the day.
The Peloton community!
A current fitness fad that should die?
Indoor cycling classes that use unsafe practices to look flashy and cute on Instagram. They make me cringe and my knees hurt from just watching.
One that should be brought back?
Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship. Please search on YouTube. You’ll thank me.