Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby has made a name for himself in the Peloton community and beyond. He’s always refreshingly honest in his classes but in his debut memoir, XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness, he reveals an intimate and raw look into his personal life.
In XOXO, Cody, Rigsby shares his raw and inspiring stories about learning how to handle the scary stuff in life while not taking yourself or life too seriously. The book is a bold and heartfelt reminder that sometimes laughing at yourself is the best medicine.
This was one book I knew I needed to listen to in his distinctive voice. I recommend reading it that way. What can a mid-30s Peloton instructor teach this straight middle-aged mom about life? I’ll share with you my insights on his personal story, the flow of the book itself, and whether this book is worth reading.
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What I liked:
- Cody’s message of self-love and acceptance.
- Learning more about his rough childhood and his journey to financial stability.
- His love for his mom, Cindy, his friends, and the life Peloton has given him.
Who Should Read This Book
Obviously, fans of Cody as a Peloton instructor will like this book most, but you should also have a working knowledge of pop culture to fully appreciate this book.
This book goes into detail about sex, hooking up, drugs and alcohol, among other things, so if you’re giving this to a teen to read just know that beforehand. Personally, I want to expose my kids to as much as I can to use as teaching and discussion points rather than hiding information from them. But I know not everyone is on the same page as me (pun intended). And ironically, my kids don’t read anyway.
Is This Like Cody’s XOXO Peloton Series?
Yes and no. Cody’s book is unabashedly Cody. He has a lot of opinions on everything from friendships and relationships to junk food and career advice. If you’re familiar with the XOXO Peloton cycling series, he reads a bunch of letters from riders and tries to answer them as best as possible. Many seek love advice.
Cody tells us there’s a reason why every middle-aged woman wants a gay best friend. They’re fun and honest. Cody is both.
However, in the book, the XOXO chapters are sprinkled amongst personal stories from Cody Rigsby’s life, most of it spent in small-town North Carolina, some of them dark and others funny, filled with his witty humor.
XOXO, Cody is a memoir published in September of 2023 that quickly became a New York Times bestseller. In the book, Rigsby shares his journey from growing up in a small town in North Carolina to becoming a Peloton superstar in New York City.
The main theme of this book is self-love and acceptance, and he encourages readers to love themselves for who they are before anyone else can love them.
Another theme is perseverance. Things did not always come easily to Cody. He worked for it. He’s also the first to admit he happened to be in the right place at the right time. ‘ also happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Whether he hired a ghostwriter or not (I always assume celebrities do), the book feels very much like Cody. It’s sprinkled with motivating quotes you’ve heard in class before like references to Britney Spears, thoughts on food choices, and clothing.
He reminds you that he works out a lot to have his body and that he eats a boring but disciplined diet, starting each morning drinking liquid egg whites, but he spends a significant amount of time in the book talking about junk food. For example, his hatred of black licorice, Hot Pockets, and grape jelly, and why people should not drink Diet Coke.
The book does not follow a chronological order, which sometimes confused me. In one chapter, he’s talking about winning best dressed in high school and in the next, he’s talking about moving into a hotel when he’s 12. That’s probably my biggest criticism of the book. However, in the end, it got itself back on track to tell his story to the current day.
His candid storytelling and the ability to switch topics so freely are intentional and make you feel like you are sitting down over a cup of coffee and catching up with a friend. He gives you real actionable advice whether you’re seeking it or not.
Cody, the Instructor
I’ve been taking Peloton classes for a long time, taking my first class at my brother’s house before I knew anything about the company back in 2015. And since the beginning of my fitness journey, Cody has been there.
Cody joined Peloton as an instructor in April 2014, way before the fancy studio of today, and before the 23rd Street studio. At the time, there was a black curtain, an instructor bike, and four Peloton riders, one of whom was usually Jill Foley, John Foley’s wife.
Peloton hired him immediately as he could perform on camera, oozed charisma, worked out daily, and had rhythm due to his years as a professional dancer. But he had never taught a fitness class before and lacked any certification.
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He worked alongside Jenn Sherman, Jess King, Robin Arzon, and Hannah Corbin. He was the only male instructor.
It took him years to find his secret sauce, only to realize it was him the whole time. It was his brashness, his sense of joy, and his humor that he brought to every fitness class.
At the time, Peloton instructors were paid per class and he taught 12 classes per week, subbing whenever he could, not just for the love of Peloton but for the paycheck. The Pandemic brought in a record number of Peloton users and soon, he became its most popular instructor.
Cody Rigsby’s Career Before Peloton
Cody didn’t take his first dance class until after high school. He attended the University of North Carolina, pursuing a degree in musical theater, although he couldn’t sing. He had spent his early childhood in Burbank, California, and determined back then that he would be a star.
Life as a dancer is hard, always trying to find your next gig and pay the rent, so it wasn’t unusual for Cody to work up to three non-dance jobs at a time.
Cody’s Work Ethic
Cody mentions his mom, Cindy, often during his rides. What he doesn’t share with us are her mental health issues, physical health struggles, and earlier addiction problems. This addiction caused a lot of emotional and financial instability in his life. When he was 12 years-old, he, his mom, and her then-boyfriend lived in a hotel for a year after eviction.
It’s no surprise that Cody talks about money a lot in his book.
With His Friends
More than relationship advice, Cody offers friendship advice throughout the book. And he wants you to know that friendships do not have to last forever. Sometimes they run their course but like any relationship, sometimes you have to put the work in to make them last.
Cody’s friendships are important to him, especially since he never had a traditional upbringing. He celebrates his friends and wants you to do that too.
As for Peloton friendships, he knew many of the instructors, especially former dancers like Emma Lovewell and Ally Love before Peloton through the dance world. He calls Jenn Sherman his cool mom, Alex Toussaint his brother, and Robin a mentor.
But his truest friendships are with those who knew him when he was a “broke-ass dancer.” He talks about the loss of his best friend Oscar to addiction, the same thing that his own father died from when Cody was just 4 months old.
With His Mom
Cody’s had a complicated relationship with his mom. He lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her for a long time. That’s a lot of togetherness. He addresses her demons with raw honesty but also celebrates her gossipy and fun side. One thing is clear, he’s a good son. And she’s his boo.
With His Partners
Cody came out to his mom at the age of 19. Moving to New York as a proud gay man gave him the ability to live his best life. While he likely has had more hook-ups than many of us, he’s had 5 serious relationships, one that he’s still in with his boyfriend, Andres. His message continues to be clear: love yourself first and be the best version of you. He asks if you won’t eat dinner at a restaurant alone, why would anyone else want to?
With Peloton Members
Cody acknowledges that for some members, this is the first time they have “met” someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. And through his platform, he has reached parents and closeted kids. To me, this is the best thing about Peloton, the diversity of the instructors.
Cody’s View on Money
Cody ends the book talking about his ventures outside of Peloton. With a huge social media following and over 1 million followers on Instagram alone, it’s natural that he is the face of numerous brands, everything from Therabody and Adidas to McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s. He started working at McDonald’s at 16, giving him his first sense of financial freedom and enough to buy a car (which he later had to lend to his mom so she could get to work).
He also talks a lot (maybe too much for me) about being a thirtieth Season of Dancing With the Stars finalist and his time on the show.
Some readers interpret his openness about money as bragging. I don’t agree. Instead, I understand him as a person who grew up in poverty with a mother who could not manage the money she had, and he sees money as something you can lose. He understands that one day, he could get injured, or Peloton could go away, and seeks to make as much money as he can right now. He wants to ride the wave.
Also, he’s generous with his money, moving his mom blocks away and paying for her to live there, and taking his friends on elaborate trips because he can!
I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it enjoyable? Yes. Parts were hard to hear, especially about his younger days in California with an addicted mother. I should mention it doesn’t appear that she ever showed anything but love towards her son.
This was a quick read. I listened to it over two days, mainly while doing housework. If you’re a fan of Peloton, and Cody Rigsby, you should read this book. It had a lot less fluff than the title implies. To be honest, I could have done without some of the traditional XOXO banter. It got repetitive. For example, more than once, he talks about not loving yourself if you wear flip-flops walking around a city. Cody, we get it. You’ve said that in several rides, and at least two times in this book. It made me wonder why an editor didn’t go through his quips more thoroughly to at least check for redundancy.
However, overall I liked this book. Cody does have an empowering story and his message is clear. He wants us to love ourselves and live our best lives.
I actually played the introduction of the book for my almost 13-year old daughter. I wanted her to hear that it’s OK to laugh at yourself, that you shouldn’t live your life for fear of judgment, and it’s important to go outside of your comfort zone. Cody’s done all these things and I commend him for sharing bits of his life story with us in this candid book. Is Cody for everyone? No. Absolutely, not. But isn’t that the whole point?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find a schedule for Cody Rigsby’s book tour?
Cody Rigsby’s book tour schedule can be found on his official website. Fans can also follow Cody on his social media accounts for updates on his book tour. Just note these are not public speaking events. Instead, it’s a quick signing of his book.
Michelle Platt is a content creator and certified personal trainer. Proving it’s never to late to reinvent yourself, she’s a former attorney and teacher who loves to do the research so you don’t have to. She takes a deep dive into each topic and writes about her wellness journey here. She loves trying out new workouts, fitness tips, healthy foods, and products to share with you. This native New Yorker recently made the move to the suburbs of Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.