Columbus defenseman Marc Methot decided to try something new during the offseason.

The fourth-year Blue Jacket spent the 2009 summer training in mixed martial arts (MMA) at an ultimate fighting center in Ottawa to improve his strength and endurance on the ice.

“I like to do a lot of variety in my workouts during the summer,” Methot said. “I’ve done boxing for eight years and it gave me confidence on and off the ice. The MMA was something that I could work off boxing with more conditioning.”

Methot, who was drafted by the Jackets in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, said he wanted to try something new that was out of his comfort zone. Methot, a native of Ottawa, Canada went to the Team Bushido MMA Fitness Center.

“On the conditioning side, it was very hard,” Methot said. “When I first started, I learned the basic moves involving grabs and holds and once I got that down, the intensity amped up. I started doing punching drills and kicking the bag for rounds up to three minutes continuously at a time. There were times where I just wanted to puke.”

These workouts are not easy, even for hockey players.

“I worked out about four hours a week, which actually was quite a bit,” Methot said. “I didn’t want to do any more than that or I’d be too exhausted to do the rest of my workouts. I was doing two sessions of week and it was awesome.”

MMA is a full-contact sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques, including striking methods (such as kicks, knees and punches) and grappling techniques (clinch holds, pinning holds, submission holds, sweeps and takedowns). MMA rules and regulations even allow elbow strikes, headbutts and spinal locks.

“[MMA] definitely toughens you up a little bit before the start of the season,” Methot said. “Being the grind that it is during a season, it’s a good thing to have on your resume.”

Methot has played in 108 career NHL games, scoring four goals with 20 assists. This season, the defenseman has claimed three assists for the Blue Jackets (7-6-1), helping the team stand in second place in the Central Division of the Western Conference.

“I think in terms of puck battles around the boards, [MMA] will help,” Methot said. “It probably has not made a huge difference in my game, but I’m definitely more comfortable out there on the ice and that’s really what I was looking for.”

Methot said he encourages his teammates to try some diversity in their workout routines.

“It’s so much different, but I always recommend guys to learn how to box before they get into the kicking routine in MMA,” Methot said. “I was lucky enough to have basic training with boxing before I started and that gave me an advantage. I recommend it to any hockey player. Its fun.”