"Excuse me," I said, realizing too late that my unsettled voice would shatter the serenity of the room. I craned my neck to find our torturer. "What does that mean, 'hip back?'" I didn't intend for it to sound snide. Miss Maleficent glided to my side, placed her hand on my hip, and gently pushed it back. "Hip back," she said softly, her irritated expression barely masked with an encouraging smile. "Now for the other side! Aren't you glad you only have two?" There were murmurs and grumbles and giggles at this. I managed to grunt a mixture of all three.
The blue hair to my right was facing my direction. I'd spoken with her briefly before class had begun. She had just returned from an African safari. She had to be at least 70, and she was thick around the middle. I felt compelled to perform beneath her calm gaze. I held my legs as high as I could, almost as high as hers, and then it happened. A stab of white-hot pain shot up my hamstring and into my gluteus maximus; I instinctively catered to the cramp by dropping my legs and stretching out.
"Small movements; keep them small, " said our instructor, her tsking eyes on me alone.
When class was over, I was exhausted and sore, my jellied legs barely able to make it down the stairs.
"What did you think?" asked Ency, who, I later learned, grew up competing in gymnastics. I didn't know what to say, so I just looked at her and raised my brows in helplessness, an action that proved there was, in fact, a part of my body that didn't hurt. "Don't feel bad," Ency said. "After you've been doing this for 55 years, I'm sure you'll be able to keep up."