Jessica Groves-Chapman was born in Louisville, Texas, spent most of her childhood in Warner Robins and then Macon, Georgia, where she graduated from Central High School. She started college at Emory University and finished her undergrad at Wesleyan College in Macon with a degree in Psychology. She moved to Athens to study at the University of Georgia, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Jessica is a movement educator and owner of Athens Movement Practice, which she co-founded with her partner, Marvin. She lives on the west side of Athens, with her two children, Marvin and Emma, and her dog, Squash.
What inspired you or led you to your career?
Right out of grad school, I got the coveted tenure track position at Center College. I spent a year out there, I was pregnant with Emma at the time. When they say family-friendly, they don’t really mean that, and I just got burned out real quick with academia and the other requirements associated with teaching. So, we moved back to Athens following a job offer for Marvin, and I struggled to figure out what to do next. We decided to start a business around Marvin’s professional training and massage work, after his initial job fell through. I thought with all my education, clearly I can start a business, right? It shouldn’t be too hard. I did that at first, just the business side. Then, Marvin sent me to a workshop hosted by Movnat. It is a physical education system for natural movement training, and I went to it. I had never been to anything like it. I loved it. I fell in love with it. I was like ‘oh I can do this, I can teach this’. That workshop was in March of 2017, and while there I called Marvin and told him I was going to New Mexico in May. He was like: what?! I was like, oh yeah I am going. There was a women’s certification in May in New Mexico, so I got my Level I in May and a year later got my Level II in Movnat. Really, it was from MovNat, which also helped me heal from a running injury, that got me very passionate about how the body moves, how it is supposed to move versus how we train it in a gym setting.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens, and what do you love there?
I just ate at the new Farm Cart restaurant and oh my gosh! I had the Carolina Boy–mustard based barbeque on a biscuit with an egg and slaw. It was incredible! If you haven’t been by the Farm Cart, I highly recommend it. Plus it is a local, family owned business too.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Greece. I had a teacher who I loved in high school, and she taught us about Greek Architecture. It’s funny because you can see it all in Southern Architecture too, all of the columns and how the columns are designed. I have always wanted to go and see it for myself, and also I have always wanted to go to Santorini because buildings set in the mountains is just beautiful.
What is your favorite movie or what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams. It is a rather sad movie, but for some reason it really strikes a chord with me. It is very spiritual in nature and kind of where our consciousness goes and how we are connected as humans. I feel like that whole movie is about that connection.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I think in my life I set a lot of really big goals, and things happened that I didn’t expect and you really don’t know how life is going to go but you just have to keep going. You just have to keep moving forward.
If you could put a billboard up around town, what would it say?
I think it would say “You are only as strong as you believe. You are your own limiter.”
What is your favorite thing to do in Athens on your day off?
I love to be outside in Athens. I love all the parks, going to them with my kids. I also love to run on some of the local trails.
If you could see any band or show, dead or alive, anywhere, who or what would it be and where?
Freddie Mercury. I would like to see him perform when he was in his prime. Big Arena, outdoors so you could really experience it.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I got a voice scholarship to college. A full ride voice scholarship for singing to Presbyterian College in South Carolina and turned it down.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Love, strength and safety.