This Is Your Brain on Peloton

Before I met Cody Rigsby, I thought Peloton, the bourgeois exercise bike company that employs him, was about slavish devotion to a techno-religious sect. I didn’t realize that it could also be about celebrities, accessories, and reimagining the high school social hierarchy. Suddenly I was interested. I wouldn’t say I like to exercise, so I want my brain to feel as anesthetized as possible when I do it. And after I signed up for Peloton’s 30-day free trial of virtual content and hopped on the dusty Schwinn in my in-laws’ basement, I was zonked.

Logging on to one of Rigsby’s sessions feels like syncing up with a human iPhone, constantly swiping toward some new distraction. It keeps me stimulated enough to alleviate the monotony and discomfort of exercise without prompting me to do any mental work. Peloton is known for selling its ludicrously expensive bikes, but you don’t have to buy one to stream its classes. The company’s more significant offering is this: the total duration of the mind.


Exercise-as-entertainment is an American institution. The fitness guru’s sphere of influence has typically been centered on the body, with some wiggle room for related self-help psychobabble and musical appreciation. Now Peloton has introduced topicality and specificity to the genre, pumping out dozens of streaming classes daily. The company offers rides themed around Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and the life philosophy of the television producer Shonda Rhimes. See Jack LaLanne, Richard Simmons, “The Biggest Loser.”

In the extended Peloton universe, which besides the spinning classes, also includes guided meditations, stretches, strength training, and more, the instructors have carved out their microgenres. The luminescent Ally Love is the queen of seated choreography. Jess King has developed a series she calls “The Jess King Experience,” incorporating campy costumes, dramatic camera angles, a DJ sidekick, and extreme drama-kid vibes.

And Rigsby has the energy of a messy podcast host; as he rides, he might lead the class in a skills ranking of defunct boy bands (“Indisputably, Kevin is the hottest Backstreet Boy”) or break down the previous night’s television event. The day after Oprah’s royal exit interview, Rigsby began his class like this: “I’m bringing Meghan Markle energy into the ride, OK?”

Katie Axon

After leaving the corporate world to pursue my dreams, I started writing because it helped me organize and express myself. It also allowed me to connect with people who share my passion for art, travel, fashion, technology, health, and food. I currently write on vexsh, a site focused on sharing and discovering what it means to be a creative, passionate person living in today's digital age.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button