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WATCH: Inverness teenager with rare brain condition hosts an empowered living workshop as she takes on Strictly Inverness

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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A young entrepreneur with a rare lifelong brain condition hosted an empowered living workshop for women at the weekend as she is determined to push herself by taking on Strictly Inverness in tribute to her late grandfather.

Kaitlyn Heggie (18) –whose mum runs Cheryl Heggie School of Dance which specialises in Highland dancing – was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy two years ago.

She said: “I was born with it, but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 16, however usually people aren’t diagnosed until their 20s due to a hormonal imbalance.

“I started having attacks when I was 13 and would fall to the ground, unable to move my body.

"I went through loads of testing for three years until I got an official diagnosis, but the doctors had never seen it in someone so young.

"Getting diagnosed lifted a weight off my shoulders as it gave me the clarification I needed and knowing that there is something there, but it's not going to kill me."

Since her diagnosis, Kaitlyn has been debilitated by numerous uncontrollable symptoms.

But, despite Kaitlyn's physical limitations, it hasn’t stopped her doing what she loves most, fitness.

At just 18 Kaitlyn left school and kickstarted her own fitness business after she was inspired to help women in the Highland’s with their body image.

Pelvic yoga session at Kaitlyn's empowered living event..
Pelvic yoga session at Kaitlyn's empowered living event..

She said: “I started my business, Unstoppable Fitness, in November last year to help women to develop a positive relationship with their body image, self esteem and mindset toward nutrition and fitness, by empowering and encouraging them to prioritise their overall health and well being while learning healthy habits and still living their life to the fullest.

“My condition inspired my business in so many ways, it helped me to find what I love in life and now I’m in a position to give it back and help other women.”

In aid of taking control of her condition and fundraising for the Highland Hospice, Kaitlyn hosted an empowered living workshop for women in the Highlands.

Lunch served at the empowered living session.
Lunch served at the empowered living session.

From a pelvic floor yoga session and meditation, to a full on fun aerobics Highland dancing lesson with Kaitlyn’s mum, Cheryl.

Kaitlyn was delighted with the turnout of the event and the warm atmosphere that was created by everyone who attended.

She said: “The turnout was brilliant as loads of people turned up to learn about their overall health through the various workshops.

“My favourite part of the day was seeing everyone smile and knowing that I was able to provide a day for them to meet other like minded women.”

Dozens of women attended Kaitlyn's empowered living session in Inverness.
Dozens of women attended Kaitlyn's empowered living session in Inverness.

Her mum, Cheryl, also attended the event as she hosted a Highland dance workshop.

She is ‘exceptionally proud’ of her daughter after everything she has accomplished this past year, from starting her business to taking on Strictly Inverness.

Cheryl said: “I am absolutely marvelled at Kaitlyn’s confidence, especially considering her age, she has done so, so well.

“I am really excited about her new business as fitness features quite a lot in my own life so it’s nice to see that I have hopefully passed that on to Kaitlyn and to continue that healthy lifestyle.”

Now Kaitlyn is taking part in Strictly Inverness- the annual dance contest in aid of organisers and hosts Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre- to push herself and to honour her grandad’s memory.

Alongside her dance partner, Emma (34), of Muir of Ord, they are learning a salsa and musical theatre number, as well as a group dance ahead of the contest in May. They are among the contest's first same-sex dance partnerships.

When talking about her Strictly experience so far, she said: “It’s intense and a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I am loving every second of it.

“I especially love it with my dance partner, Emma, as we help motivate each other, so I am really lucky to have been partnered with her.”

Kaitlyn now plans to continue on her fundraising mission to raise as much money and awareness as possible for the Highland Hospice prior to taking part in Strictly Inverness in May.

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