While living in Sheffield, I got to experience their woody, designed by the Beastmaker guys. It was set in a mirror format, completely replicated down the middle. At first, I didn't know what to make of it - it seemed a bit of a gimmick. And hard. Really frickin' hard.
I played around on it a bit not really buying into it at first, even though the principle of it made complete sense. As you have to do each problem on both sides, it highlights any weaknesses which you can thus address - it doesn't count to do a problem unless you've done both versions of it.
And then one day I was trying one of the problems from the book that lived beside it. I cruised up the problem on one side. And then realized there was at least two moves that I couldn't even attempt to do on the other. An awakening. An imbalance across my arms that while I was aware of (partly from an old injury I'd addressed enough so that I had forgotten about it), I didn't really appreciate. And thus the mirror board made sense. Over time, it got the point where I was doing problems on either side but it was such a brilliant, ingenious way to keep an eye on any flaws in technique or strength. Yes, it also showed I was quite poor jumping off one foot, for technical reasons and not strength/power. It helped fixed those too. Additionally, it wasn't 'boring' or 'repetitive' since you were setting custom problems on it all the time - it never felt like 'training'.
Of course, I personally thought it had one flaw in that the wooden footholds were too bad - you spend almost every move with your feet swinging off before re-placing them back on the footholds and repeating. Good for power and core tension, but I never was sure if it was helping my technique. Anyway, that was the year I got super/ultra/ridiculously solid at a new level for myself so it was definitely doing something right. It wasn't the sole reason for the step up, but it was definitely a factor.
Kris Hampton has a good write-up on his site, Power Company Climbing, about his new one. His (picture above) also looks like it's set at a much more amenable level than the super-hard Climbing Works one (I can't remember the grading of theirs but it went from level 1-5, and level 1 was definitely not Font 6a!). Looks like he'll be providing some good advice and notes on it for anyone interested in building their own.
Anyone else any experience of one? What were your thoughts?
As always, please share!
Update (19th April 2014): Bouldering Essentials linked to a good video with power endurance ideas below: