Cody Rigsby is an Open Book

Written by | Books, Fitness

Cody Rigsby is heartbreakingly honest in his debut book, and out of respect, so too will I. At first glance, XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness, with the naughtily dashing Peloton instructor-cum-pop culture sensation gracing the cover, could be dismissed as, oh, another attractive gay influencer writes a book … how (pardon the pun) novel. Flip open the book and there’s a dedication to Britney Spears, a dig at flip-flop wearers, and a promise of his infamous “Hit and Miss” lists. But, as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. What a journey. I read it all in one sitting, sometimes laughing aloud, sometimes in tears, and sometimes in utter shock at what was being said. Forget what you think you know about Cody – his success at Peloton, his stint on Dancing with the Stars, his social media empire, his early years dancing for Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, becoming the media’s darling – you don’t know squat. This book, more engaging than any superhero’s origin story, tells the tale of a kid who has survived some of life’s hardest knocks, complete with themes of poverty, addiction, codependency, broken hearts, and grief, and emerged a sassy beacon of light for many people. The book is raw and unfiltered, and entirely inspiring.

For Cody, this book was a natural progression from his time in front of his Peloton audience, even at the risk of revealing too much. Reading it, you get to experience Cody beyond the bigger-than-life persona, you see him broken by grief, you see him fight the odds, and you also get to see Cody a bit cocky, a bit slutty, and more than opinionated. All things he proudly takes ownership of.

I get to share a lot of my stories on the bike and on social media. They are these kinds of snackable portions of my life and people resonate with them. They find inspiration or they find laughter with it. If they’re reacting to such a condensed version of it, let’s go deeper, let’s give ’em the full details. And that’s the inspiration for telling my story with more depth. But most importantly, I try to infuse purpose in everything I do, including this book. It is to inspire people to let their guard down, to not take life so seriously. Yes, life is serious and there are things we have to process and we have a lot of different emotions, but once we get through all of that, on the other side we can laugh because it doesn’t affect us anymore, or we’ve found the power to overcome. Or we’ve had that aha moment when we realize what that traumatic experience or hardship has taught us.

I wanted to be an open book – pun intended. Obviously, with this sort of medium, you can do it more methodically, you can be a little bit more thoughtful about how you approach it and put it all out there. But I laid it out as truthfully and as honestly and as vulnerably and as raw as I could. Again, with that hope that people connect to something. I felt like if I would’ve watered it down or tried to protect something, I wouldn’t be giving all the details and that it just wouldn’t be as authentic. Referring to fandom, I feel like people have come to know me because I am real, because I’m honest, and because I don’t hold back. I share my opinions on silly things, but I’m also super vulnerable about the things that matter. I think this is an alignment with every other thing that I do. If it’s Peloton, if it’s Dancing with the Stars, if it’s social media, it’s raw, it’s vulnerable, it’s real, it’s authentic. And I think that people that already follow me are going to love it. And hopefully, people who have no idea who I am will also find inspiration and connection to it.

Cody was raised in less-than-ideal conditions. With an early start in Burbank, California, he was born into a family of addiction, losing his father early on to the disease. With a single mom struggling with her own bouts of addiction and job loss, they were often scrounging for lodging. In his early teens, Cody found himself working a variety of jobs just to help out with rent and food. His mother is the other main character in the book and, as many gay boys say they are close to their moms, Cody is extremely close to his. Though his relationship with his mother always comes from a place of love, it is not without its hardships.

I think everybody’s relationship with their parents can be complicated. As much as we love them, there are lots of complications. There are things that we inherit from our parents that are not our fault but are our responsibility to change and break the cycle and to be better people. My mom’s parents did the best they could with her, and they made a great person who was also flawed. And then she made me, and I am also flawed, but conceivably better than what she was. I think that’s just a beautiful cycle and something to reflect on. But most importantly, my mom taught me to be silly, to not take life so seriously, to laugh at stupid shit, to make fun of life, to just remember to have fun. I love that Cindy was not a normal mom. She was a cool mom and I appreciate that.

With everything from his childhood into his adulthood being brought out into the open, is he afraid of her seeing it in a public forum?

We are both very open people. Three months ago, she told me about the threesome she had. So, you know, [laughs], we’re both pretty open books and get a kick out of just being honest. I made sure before I went into this process to tell her I was going talk about my life and some of those things, but also that I am not just telling stories for shock and awe. I wanted to tell these stories so people connect with them and don’t feel alone. Maybe it helps them process it. A lot of us hold on to some of the shame from our upbringing because we feel like we’re the only ones.

People say, oh, I didn’t have a mom and a dad and a sister and live in a beautiful white picket fence house. There’s some shame in that. I think it’s about owning it. I didn’t have a perfect upbringing. I had some hardships, but I made it out on the other end. And even through all that complication, I still have a beautiful, loving relationship with my mom and the people close to me. So, I think she knew that I was going to share these stories, but also knew that sharing these stories had a purpose. I hope that she’s proud of what she reads or listens to and knows that our story is being shared together with impact.

Tongue in cheek, Cody brandishes his sexuality. His hookups, his affairs, and his current relationship. It’s all there. For Cody, now is the time for our community to embrace sexuality, not hide it.

So many of the people who came before us had to dim their light, hide their joy. Like it or not, sex is fun, sex is joyful. So, no, we’re not going to tone it down. We’re not going to stop. This is a country where people should have the right to sleep with whomever they want. I don’t want to hear love is love. Even if you don’t love them, you should have the right to sleep with or marry or love whoever you want to. It’s not time to slow down. It’s disgusting to have the same tactics that were being used in the ‘80s calling us pedophiles, calling us groomers, used 30 years later. And there’s a large portion of the country that’s feeding into this narrative. We’re not going back into the closet, you know?

Reading XOXO, Cody is also a journey through Cody’s black book. All of the whispers among the gay community such as, was that him on Grindr? Was that him at Fire Island? Did he do that? It’s all answered. His relationships, no matter how short, are all explored. And yes, he’s back with his boyfriend.

A big reason that I dove into the relationship part of this is because the “XOXO Cody Rides” at Peloton were so popular and people really resonated with what I had to say when it came to relationships. I’ve had people ask me like, okay, well how, how are you an expert on this? And I say, I’m not an expert. I’ve had a lot of messiness. I’ve had a lot of failures. I’ve had a lot of mistakes happen, but I’ve learned how to get myself up and learn from those mistakes. And that is my authority. And that’s where I’ve become the expert here. I’m not trying to hide behind some fancy-looking degree or certificate and say that I’ve got it all figured out. I’ve got what I’ve got figured out, and I want people to learn from my mistakes.

Luckily, I’ve had enough time to make those mistakes and understand who I am up until this point, and I’ve got a lot of room to grow. Fortunately, I have a partner who loves my messiness. And I love their messiness. We give each other space to be imperfect, and we give each other grace. I think we’ve been on a great path of choosing to be with each other. Thankfully, we’re aligned on a good chunk of the things in our lives, including having great conversations.

Another major character in Cody’s book is grief. Something universal that affects everyone. Where grief, especially experienced early on in life, can be debilitating, Cody fought through it and continues to learn from it.

My father was my first big loss. With much time processing, I’ve realized that I was grieving or angry about the idea of my father, not necessarily the person. I didn’t really know him and the more I came to know about him, the more I realized that having that person, that figurehead in my life, probably wasn’t a good idea. He was also an addict. He did toxic things to my mom that I don’t even go into in the book. I’m grateful for that upbringing of me being an only child, a single parent child.

When I think about the biggest loss I’ve had in my life, it is my friend Oscar. He was just such a brother to me and someone who I absolutely loved, and we had such a special connection. I never expected to lose him so early in my life. Throughout that process, I was alongside him battling his addiction. Some of that came with caring so much and seeing Oscar continuously make bad decisions and having that affect me. I felt like my best self wasn’t showing up because I was not supporting him the way that maybe he deserved to be supported. I had to create boundaries for my own sanity. And that’s a really hard decision. It’s me choosing myself over someone else. And in a way, there’s a little bit of guilt because you feel like, oh, could I have done more? Should I have done more? What could I have done differently? I always come back to the idea that we only know what we know at that moment. I can’t make a decision from the place I am now. But I knew I did what was best for myself and that I continuously loved my friend as much as I could. I was also in the dark about a lot of the things that were going on. It was definitely hard to process the guilt that I felt, but I’ve let that go knowing that I did the best I could at that moment. 

All of this backstory and emotion exists behind the bigger-than-life personality you see on the bike at Peloton. Leading the millions, he started at the then-unknown company, almost a decade ago. Without ever having led a fitness class, he was brought on board because of his personality. After studying other instructors, trying to fit a mold, he had a modest start – nothing to write home about. After he decided to stop emulating other instructors in the industry and add his signature flair and personal stories, he started to take off. COVID helped propel the company and Cody into the spotlight. When did Cody know he was becoming a sensation?

I mean, it still is very foreign to me. I’m not movie star famous. I’m not like pop star famous, but it is a nice somewhere on the D or C list famous. Most importantly, even though all the fame and success, what I really like about being in the spotlight is that I continuously get to affect people in a positive way, a way that’s inspirational. That’s really what is most important to me, knowing that my work is rooted in purpose and connecting with people.

All eyes are on Cody as of late. Not only has he inspired a large population to get fit or lead a healthier lifestyle, but he has also become a spokesperson for the LGBTQ community.

I feel like the bike is a trojan horse of LGBTQ acceptance. People buy the bike, or they get on the app and they find my workouts, and they just have fun. They are reminded that they cannot take life seriously, that they can be authentic, that they can be vulnerable, that they can be silly, and then they kind of fall in love with this person. For some people, they’ve never met a queer person, they don’t have a queer person in their community, and therefore they have this positive, genuine, authentic connection with a queer person. And hopefully, that really does change their mind or changes or inspires them to act differently within their community. I believe that one person can really create change within small communities and have a domino effect. Those are the people who are going to hopefully stand up when people say or do something trans or homophobic or they might vote differently or whatever it is.

I also think about the members who have shared their stories with me and how inspirational that is. In the book I share about someone who came into the studio who had their child come out to them recently as trans. Although I’m not trans, they felt that sense of community and a little bit more understood because they saw a gay person living their authentic life, or I was talking about trans people. They felt that they could process that on their own. I’ve also had people come to me who were in the closet and saw their parents riding with me. It gave them courage to come out to their parents. It’s my privilege and my honor to represent our community and to do it in a way that has a positive effect.

Even with all of his continued success and coverage, with this book bound to make him an even bigger household name, he is content and appreciative of his present state. Having a knack for knowing when to pivot and change the course, for now, he isn’t going anywhere.

Listen, nothing lasts forever, but here I am nine years later, and I still absolutely love my job. It’s fun, I get to change people’s lives. I inspire them to do something that’s really good for them. I still have that passion for Peloton and it’s great. Fortunately, they’ve given me the reins to do so many different things. They push me to be who I am and have helped me build the brand and everything that I’ve done before.

I’m intuitive and I think I’ll know when it is time to move on. I’m not there yet and I’m just excited for all the things I have coming up, like this book. I’m also excited about the unknown projects. I will be ready to embrace them with open arms when they’re right for me. You know? As long as that next project is purposeful and allows me to stay connected and have a positive impact on people and this place we all inhabit, then I’ll move with it.

In true Cody fashion, he has a message for the LGBTQ community…

You know, we’ve done a bang-up job up to here. Some bitches are trying to snatch our wigs, but we’re gonna keep pumping and be fierce and be amazing. Don’t you dare dim your light for anybody who doesn’t respect you. Keep pumping and show the world how beautiful we are.

XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness is available on Amazon and wherever you get your books. Check out the audio version done by the queen herself.

Writer’s Note: Cody’s book is in no way a commercial for Peloton. But, because of his inspirational journey and love of the company, I just had to get my own. As someone whose idea of cardio is walking to the mailbox, I’m excited to start pumping and to be fierce and amazing.

Last modified: October 6, 2023