He's mastering the art of R&R — rest and recovery, that is.
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Cody Rigsby riding Peloton bike along with a studio portrait of him on a green background
Credit: Getty / Peloton

Cody Rigsby is trying to become a better napper…but he hasn't quite worked out all the kinks yet.

"I took a nap today but I looked at my calendar wrong and missed a meeting," the Peloton instructor says during a Zoom call (that he mercifully woke up in time for). "So just be sure that when you set that alarm, you check your calendar!"

Rigsby, who's become a household name among fitness fans who obsess over his encyclopedic knowledge of Britney Spears and his Dancing With the Stars-level talent, hasn't always been keen on rest and relaxation. But over the course of a physically demanding career that's taken him from backup dancing to cycling superstardom, he's had to learn how to slow down for the sake of his own wellbeing.

"I think it's something that we all struggle with — especially people in fitness who always want to be moving and feeling like they're doing something; it's hard to slow us down and stop us," he says, adding that when he started at Peloton eight years ago, he was just 26 and had energy to spare. And while he had plenty of athletic experience as a former professional dancer, he was new to the world of leading group workouts. "I also had a lot to prove because I had never taught a fitness class. That meant teaching a lot — anywhere from 10 to 16 classes a week, which is just exhausting. You're almost so exhausted that you don't even have time to recover or rest — you're just trying to make it happen."

Now, however, he's developed an appreciation for the physical and mental benefits of taking things down a notch — personally and professionally, says Rigsby. "I'm in my mid-30s — about to be 35 in June — and with age comes a little bit of wisdom," he says. "Now I really prioritize rest and recovery — it's at the top of my list, to be honest."

First and foremost, that means making eight to nine hours of shut-eye a night non-negotiable. "If I don't sleep, I'm going to be grumpy, I'm going to be moody, and I'm not going to perform the next day," he says. "So I really try to get my sleep and I'm really good at it — I usually go to bed by 11 or 12 and I'm up by 8 or 9. That's been pretty consistent and since I started being habitual about it, I can really feel the effect. I started by using sleep aids like melatonin, but then I weaned myself off so I'm just naturally in that cycle."

Another self-care habit that Rigsby is trying to master is giving his hard-working muscles some love before and after workouts. "I'm not gonna lie to you and say I stretch or foam roll every day, but I tried to at least two to three times a week," he says. "Something that's [also] important to me is water — I drink it first thing in the morning to really start my day. Hydration is really going to help your muscles recover."

As someone who's short on time, Rigsby, who recently partnered with Degree Maximum Recovery, is also all about maximizing his everyday routines to reap as many replenishing rewards as possible. "I love a hot shower at night to decompress — that's one of my favorite things," he says. "I've been using Degree Maximum Recovery Body Wash & Soak which has Epsom salt and electrolytes in it. They also have these Massage Bars with little nubs on them that help you relieve some of that tension, so I love that as well. So that's just like a cute little treat to yourself — you know, not every beauty regimen has to be a spa day. You don't have to go outside of your home to get that same kind of 'take care of yourself' feeling."

While those regular habits are a must to keep Rigsby refreshed for cycling and boot camp classes, he's also an adamant believer in taking total workout breaks at least two days a week for his mental and physical wellbeing. "I try to take Saturday and Sundays off typically and not be very active," he says. "I definitely take one of those days to be very, very lazy and eat yummy food and just give myself permission to be that. I think we really struggle sometimes with doing nothing — give yourself permission to be a slob on the couch or be in bed all day and binge watch TV and order takeout. Give yourself permission to do that. One day a week is not going to take away from your goals. It's not going to hurt your consistency."

Like his Peloton colleague, Rebecca Kennedy, Rigsby is also specific about differentiating "rest" from "recovery" and understanding why both elements are so essential to a comprehensive wellness regimen. "I try to really oversimplify it," he says. "'Rest' to me is really inactive so it's sleeping, it's taking naps, it's doing nothing on the couch and stepping away from having to move your body that day. 'Recovery' is a little bit more active, so that's stretching, foam rolling, and a hot shower to calm your nerves. That's not much activity, but you're not just sitting there doing nothing or sleeping. No fitness trainer or professional is going to tell you to go seven days a week and go all the time because your body needs that recovery and sleep to grow and to change. So if you are focused on a certain goal, that is part of the equation — and if you leave it out, you're not going to get the results that you want." (BTW — here's an active recovery workout to do when it's not a rest day.)

For those (ahem, raising both my hands) who have a tough time taking it easy, Rigsby says learning more about the science of fitness and the fundamental benefits of recovery may help make rest days easier to stomach. "For a lot of us who are either type A or are super busy or feel it's challenging to be in our own bodies and be quiet, sometimes doing research is a really good tool so that you're more informed and that educates your decision," he says. "Sometimes just changing your mindset or understanding a little bit more will help you make those decisions and give yourself permission to recover and be chill." It's worth mentioning that Rigsby also leads some of Peloton's dedicated "Rest Day Meditation" classes that are specifically geared toward making peace with taking a break.

And if you're wondering whether you actually need a rest day or if you just need some motivation to get moving, Rigsby says the key to developing that intuition begins with doing activities you truly love and skipping the stuff you dread. "Finding motivation can be challenging, but it helps to find something you enjoy," he says. "So that might be finding an instructor with a great playlist or a movement style you enjoy, like dance cardio or yoga. It's easier to find motivation by finding something that brings you joy and letting that be the root of your fitness journey. And it's also about reminding ourselves that no matter where we are at, it's okay if we're unmotivated, and it's okay if we recover — taking time to discover the joy will help a lot."