By Mike Carlson
Photography by Binias Begovic
Using the car as an analogy for the human body is an irresistible—and sexy—comparison. Performance, horsepower, fuel, junk in the trunk, it all works. That’s just one reason why American Ethanol’s entry into the fitness landscape, through sponsoring physique athlete Brandan Fokken, feels like it makes so much sense.
The goal of American Ethanol is to promote ethanol fuel, an Earth-friendly alternative to conventional gasoline. Ethanol is produced in the US using renewable feedstocks supplied by American farmers. Studies show that it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 59 percent, while limiting our dependence on foreign oil and creating more domestic jobs. It represents a rare win-win for consumers, and Fokken’s collaboration with the multibillion-dollar ethanol industry is a game-changing acknowledgement of the influence the fitness community wields.
Mike Carlson: How did your relationship with American Ethanol come about?
Brandan Fokken: Initially I was training the Broin family, who owns POET, one of the world’s largest ethanol companies, and later I became wellness coordinator there. In that environment, I have seen how this hard-working team is changing the world. It’s true not only at POET but across the ethanol industry. These folks are creating renewable, American-made solutions to our world’s energy problems, and it’s exciting to be part of it. My wife, Amber, has a following and level of success equal to mine. We decided that although we help many people in the fitness community, we wanted to use our following for a greater purpose. I sat down with the Broins to discuss the possibility, and we decided to forge this new relationship.
MC: How does American Ethanol’s messaging of clean energy, environmental advocacy, energy independence, and domestic job growth fit in with your own personal branding?
BF: The need for health and wellness goes beyond the gym. Ethanol is helping to purify the world! It’s cleaning our air and giving us a sustainable future. And it’s being done right here in the US through our local farmers. A healthy world is an extension of everything we
do in health and fitness.
MC: Do you think the fitness community could be more conscientious about clean energy and the issues that American Ethanol raise?
BF: I believe in putting the healthiest things into my body, and that includes the air that I breathe. Ethanol reduces the amount of harmful particulates that come out of our cars tailpipes and cleans up our air. I also believe that by supporting ethanol we are supporting rural agriculture, part of the foundation of this country. One of the greatest assets of this country is our ability to feed ourselves. By supporting this industry, we keep those dollars in our local communities supporting those farmers who feed us. I’m proud to be part of this industry.
MC: Do you see connection between clean living when it comes to fitness and clean living in the broader sense?
BF: I do. Obviously clean living goes beyond our diet and workout routine. It’s the water we drink, it’s the air we breathe, it’s the everyday choices we make that impact the well-being of our lives. With many of our natural resources having a finite supply, we need to be conscious of the impact we have on those resources. I’m a firm believer in living organically and minimizing my footprint on the environment. Using E15 and higher blends of ethanol is just one way I do that!
MC: Since you have started representing American Ethanol, how has your behavior or mindset changed?
BF: I think there are a lot of myths out there about the ethanol industry. Once I was able to learn about what goes into the production of ethanol and all the benefits it provides, it was easy to get behind them. I mean, who doesn’t want to support an American-made product that reduces our dependency of foreign oil, strengthens our national security, and cleans up the air that we breathe?
MC: You are one of the few people in the fitness industry to have a non-endemic sponsor. What does that say about you and about American Ethanol?
BF: American Ethanol realizes the importance of educating consumers on the importance of clean air. I think the people in the fitness community are some of the best stewards for talking about a clean lifestyle and putting the right things in our body. I’m excited to bring a nontraditional partner into this space and hope that other organizations will follow. We are a large consumer group, and the value of our purchasing power is something to take a serious look at.