She is a freelance reporter by day, but Okeemah Henderson, RPR, of Upper Marlboro, Md., is a busy business owner by night (or whenever she is not reporting), sharing her love of fitness and Caribbean carnival and music. “I got into the fitness business because for me, it was my stress reliever after a long day at court,” says Henderson. Her Karnival Bounce Crew is inspired by the masquerade carnivals of the Caribbean, and they have performed on cruises, in carnivals, and on stages up and down the East Coast.
JCR | Why is fitness so important to you?
OH | Fitness is important to me because it helps me keep my endurance up to withstand the long hours on the record. It’s also important to me because of the health aspect of it. Being fit means improving my brain health as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle to do everyday activities.
JCR | How did you get the idea to start Karnival Bounce Crew?
OH | I got the idea to start Karnival Bounce Crew because I saw a need for fitness in the community and felt if I tied the Caribbean carnival culture into it, it would take the “work” out of fitness and put the fun into it. I have participated in Caribbean carnivals for many years in the past, having a Caribbean background myself. After doing many carnivals, I wanted a change, and so I came up with the idea to incorporate my rebound boots into doing carnivals, and that’s where the idea for Karnival Bounce came from.
As an aside, I said, well, how am I going to get people interested or knowledgeable in the Caribbean culture and learning about carnivals? And that’s how SocaBounce Fitness came to be (Soca music being a leader in the Caribbean diaspora), because you go into a SocaBounce class, listen to the music, learn the routines, and then you can become part of the Karnival Bounce Crew that participates in carnivals and performance shows.
JCR | What have been some of your favorite events to participate in with your fitness business?
OH | One of my all-time favorites was recently being featured with Wyclef Jean opening up the Caribbean Music Awards in August 2023. That was definitely one of our best shows. We opened up for the Juneteenth concert in D.C. where Wyclef was a headliner. We also performed with Nomcebo Zikode, who sings the big hit “Jerusalema.”
JCR | How do you feel that your two careers are intertwined?
OH | Court reporting and my fitness business are not completely intertwined. But I would say there are similarities, as it does take a lot of focus and energy and work to maintain a fitness business, and the same is true with a court reporting business being a freelancer. So it’s a lot of dedication, time, and energy.
JCR | What is next for you?
OH | What’s up next for me is to further the brand by bringing awareness and more exposure and broadening our scope. I would like SocaBounce Fitness (my fitness program using rebound boots) to be recognized in all 50 states and the Caribbean and to basically make the platform into the next Zumba. On the performance aspect, I would like for Karnival Bounce Crew to be asked to do more major shows and just keep the community together concentrating on health and wellness.
JCR | Is there anything else you would like to share?
My twin sister, who now occasionally scopes for me, also heads up our Florida Karnival Bounce Crew branch and has a team there where we join each other regularly for carnivals and stage performances.
Okeemah Henderson, RPR, is a freelancer based in Upper Marlboro, Md. She can be reached at Okelly8139@gmail.com. More information about Karnival Bounce Crew and videos of their performances can be found at https://youtube.com/c/KarnivalBounceCrew.