Cody Rigsby ’09: Finding Your Way Is Not Always A Straight Line

Posted on February 19, 2024

UNCG alum Cody Rigsby smiles in Peloton gear

When you take a Peloton spin class with instructor Cody Rigsby ’09, you get more than just a workout: it’s part stand-up routine, part pop-culture gab session, and a little therapy. And the music pumping will probably be by his self-proclaimed queen, Britney Spears.

“I have a lot of opinions,” writes Rigsby in his memoir, aptly titled “XOXO Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness.” “But if there’s one opinion – no, one TRUTH – that I hold above all others, it’s that we shouldn’t take ourselves or our lives too seriously.”


Rigsby’s success, though, is serious business and one of many highs and lows: from being raised in North Carolina by his mother struggling with drug addiction; to navigating being queer in the South; to his current success on Peloton and beyond, including placing third on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars. ” Now director of cycling for Peloton, the 36-year-old has used his wit, charisma, and UNC Greensboro education to climb the Stairmaster of achievement. Rigsby earned a bachelor of science in consumer apparel, and retail studies from UNCG in 2009.

“As a young queer person, it wasn’t hard to find a community at UNCG, even at that time,” Rigsby said in an interview with UNCG News. “When I was coming out and figuring out who I was, there was a pretty large queer community and it was great to be able to have that.”

Having success in his high school productions, Rigsby initially wanted to study musical theatre at UNCG.

“I just wasn’t finding success in my classes or auditions,” he said. “You jump into a bigger league and start to realize you’re not as good as you thought. At the same time, I was doing a lot of community theatre and fell in love with dance, so I knew that as an artist, I wanted to be a dancer more than an actor.”


While dancing was a passion, Rigsby also chose not to pursue dance studies either – instead turning to his love of styling and fashion in the Department of Consumer Apparel and Retail Studies (CARS) in the Bryan School of Business and Economics.

Photo credit: ABC/Maarten de Boer

“I loved being in that program and there were a lot of great professors, including Minita Sanghvi,” said Rigsby. “She was one of the most impactful people in my life and was one of the first marketing professors that I’d ever taken. I credit her and the marketing classes as the catalyst for my understanding of marketing and branding. It allowed me to think of it creatively, but also in a logistical and data-driven way.”

Sanghvi was a lecturer in CARS until 2013 and is now a professor in New York. She is also the first woman of color and first LGBTQ person elected to the Saratoga Springs City Council.

“The Cody you see now is the Cody that always was. He was very smart and a big Britney Spears fan even then,” said Sanghvi. “He’s genuinely who he is and people can relate to that.”

As an openly gay professor, Sanghvi says she was a safe space for queer students.

“I always had a high standard for my students to meet. I know you can do more and I’m going to expect more. If you have someone you know who’s making you feel safe, but they’re also pushing you to succeed, I think that resonated with more kids,” she said.

Rigsby also tries to be that person for his fans: allowing them to connect with him through his classes.

“I’ve heard from closeted teens who’ve seen their parents take my classes and felt a glimmer of hope watching a queer person accepted by a member of their family. That is my purpose,” he wrote in his memoir. “That is the most important thing about my job.”

Rigsby also recalls UNCG Associate Professor Kittichai Watchravesringkan (known to his students as Dr. Tu): “He was just a really caring person who was interested in his students,” said Rigsby.

Dr. Tu says Rigsby took three different CARS classes with him during his time at UNCG and they got to know each other well.

“He was a really nice kid,” said Tu. “He would help me gather my belongings at the end of class as I had to go to another building for class. We would talk about what he wanted to do with his career.”

One Thing I miss ABout North Carolina is the Food. I love, when I visit, that I get to eat everything that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Photo credit: ABC/Maarten de Boer


Over the summer during college, Rigsby interned with the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. After graduation, he danced for big-name musical acts including Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, and Katy Perry during the 2010 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. But Rigsby was still on a journey to find the right fit: “So much of my dancing had been in service of someone else – that’s literally what being a backup dancer is – and I was ready to occupy the leading role in my life.”

He returned to New York in 2013 and was working at a club when he received an email from a colleague about a company looking for performers who were also into fitness. That company has become Peloton.

“Peloton pretty much fell into my lap,” Rigsby wrote in his memoir. “When I first auditioned to be a Peloton instructor, I had never taught a fitness class (…) What can I say, a cute face and determination can open a lot of doors.”

He now has become one of the most well-known instructors on the platform. And if Rigsby’s path at UNCG and beyond is proof of anything – it’s that finding your way is not always a straight line.

“It’s okay if you spent the past four, five, or six years chasing something or investing in something, and then post-graduation, things don’t go exactly how you imagined,” he said. “You pivot outside of the degree that you have. You can use a lot of the skills that you have to create your path or to take on an adventure that you don’t feel you’re completely ready for.”

Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Peloton and ABC


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