Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby has helped millions of people stay fit through the pandemic. Now he’s on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cody Rigsby was rarely recognized on New York’s Fire Island . It was a sanctuary, a place where “nobody knew my quote-unquote celebrity,” says the Peloton instructor, who has been inspiring users to climb imaginary hills since 2014.
“A lot of my demographic are women in the 30-to-50 age range that live in suburbia or middle America,” he says, noting that he’d sometimes get noticed while visiting his mom in North Carolina. “There are not a lot of those on a very gay island.”
Things changed when COVID-19 struck. As people looked for ways to stay fit at home, Peloton grew exponentially — from 1.6 million users in early 2020 to 5.9 million in June 2021.
So did Rigsby’s fame: Something about his exuberant teaching style resonated with people during a period of isolation and uncertainty.
This new reality dawned on Rigsby when he returned to Fire Island this summer, after a year spent doing little besides going to the empty Peloton studio in Manhattan. Instead of the blissful anonymity he once enjoyed, people would come up to him at brunch to ask for a picture. Sometimes they were celebrities.
“I have to put a little bit more of a guard up now,” he says via video conference from Los Angeles, where he’s capping off a life-changing year with a stint on “Dancing With the Stars.” “Because if I’m out with friends and I’m having a good time, which probably includes drinking” — he rolls his eyes for comic effect — “I don’t want to be too messy.”
This self-deprecating candor is part of what has made Rigsby, 34, an unusually approachable fitness guru — a virtual confidant who helps distract from the pain of a grueling workout by trash-talking Justin Timberlake and sharing cute stories about his boyfriend.
According to social media metrics, he is Peloton’s most popular teacher, with nearly a million Instagram followers. His 30-minute Britney Spears class has been taken 650,000 times and counting — more than any other of the same length. Kristen Welker of NBC News took Rigsby’s classes to help her prepare to moderate the second presidential debate in 2020.
Not bad for a job Rigsby took to earn a few hundred bucks while trying to make …….