MySmartBoard: Train Smarter, Climb Harder!
The Smartboard was born about 4 years ago. This connected board was the first of its kind to be commercialized and has been adopted by various climbing gyms, clubs, and federations to optimize athlete training.
Today, we still consider this Smartboard as a major innovation because it has advanced the assessment of climbers’ physical abilities and training tracking. The number of more or less successful imitations that have emerged since then attests to its significance.
However, the Pro version of the Smartboard is relatively expensive and not accessible to everyone. Its creators, Clément Lechaptois and Laurent Vigouroux, were well aware of this. So, they continued their thinking and created MySmartBoard. MySmartBoard incorporates most of the features of the Smartboard Pro but at a much more affordable price for the general public.
It is this new version that we had the privilege to test in advance at La Fabrique Verticale, and here are our impressions.
MySmartBoard. The Concept
For MySmartBoard, Clément and Laurent thought about the best way to offer a concept that includes everything that makes the Smartboard Pro interesting and powerful while being more accessible to a wider audience.
The key idea is that everyone can, with their own beam, do what is done on the Smartboard Pro, namely gather data on finger strength, power, endurance, and arm strength to create a profile of their abilities and monitor their training.
So, the chosen solution was to design a support that contains the acquisition system and can accommodate a beam or holds.
The idea is simple on paper. But, like any simple idea, its implementation still presented challenges. It was necessary to offer a product that is easy to set up and install while being robust enough. And also to upgrade the entire computer part (no small feat!) to make this acquisition system versatile.
MySmartBoard. The Package
When you unpack the box, MySmartBoard is quite “simply” a multi-plywood board with a beautiful laser engraving, designed to hold a beam or holds. This board is attached to the metal structure that contains the force sensors.
Once your beam or holds are attached to this board, all you have to do is secure the assembly to a sturdy support, ensuring that everything is level, and then plug MySmartBoard into a power outlet. That’s it!
Contrary to what one might think at first glance, it doesn’t take up much more space than a regular beam. Just be aware that the beam is offset a few centimeters from the supporting wall. This means you need to allow for sufficient clearance during use.
MySmartBoard. Getting Started
From now on, during each of your sessions, you will be able to collect raw data on your physiological capacities (strength, power, endurance, explosiveness, etc.), as well as more detailed information, such as the evolution of your fatigue during long efforts. All of this information will help you better assess your progress.
But first, the first step is to create an account on the app. Creating an account is not mandatory, but it has the advantage of allowing you to save your scores and progress without using a third-party app.
Using a tablet, of course, makes the manipulations and reading of information much easier. However, we used a modest-sized Android smartphone for the test and did not encounter any particular difficulties in navigating and accessing the various menus.
Once the account is created, you can select your beam. The decision was made to configure the app for two very popular models, namely the Beastmaker 1000 and 2000. However, you are not restricted, as the force sensors of MySmartBoard will record the efforts regardless of the beam or holds you use.
Like any measuring device, MySmartBoard requires a calibration phase, which is very easy to implement. You simply need to weigh yourself and then hang on the board after indicating your weight. The app will calibrate itself automatically.
From there, you can start testing.
MySmartBoard offers several tests, targeting finger strength, endurance, power, arm strength, and more, all of which contribute to creating your climber profile.
Where MySmartBoard significantly stands out from its imitators is that, based on the finger strength tests. For example, the app will guide you in choosing the holds or the overload to use for the subsequent fatigue test. These parameters are the result of research conducted on a large number of climbers of all levels. And it has received scientific validation. Nothing is arbitrary!
If you use beams other than those mentioned above, or even custom holds of specific dimensions. Because the assessments are still feasible with some interpretation or basic calculations.
I used the term “playing” a little earlier. This seems appropriate for the strength tests. It’s short, and you just need to give it your all (after a thorough warm-up, of course)!
The finger fatigue test, to name just one, is a bit different, as it involves a minimum of 24 ten-second hangs, separated by brief 6-second rests that you must complete. First by fully hanging and then, from the moment you can no longer hold for 10 seconds, by placing your feet on the ground while exerting the strongest possible pull on the holds. Needless to say, you’re glad when the test is over!
On this test, referred to in the app as the “forearm assessment,” you will benefit from the extensive research conducted beforehand, which is one of the SmartBoard’s major advantages. It provides information about the gradual decrease in the force you can exert during a several-minute effort and thus characterizes your profile, whether you are more of a “boulderer” or a “route climber,” very precisely. It’s up to you to tailor your training based on your strategy.
Training with MySmartBoard
MySmartBoard is not just an assessment tool. It also offers typical sequences to warm up properly or improve in various physical aspects. There is also a place for sharing sessions within the SmartBoard community. You can test sessions offered by Patxi Usobiaga himself or contribute to this database with your own sessions.
MySmartBoard. For Whom?
MySmartBoard is intended for climbers who pay close attention to their training and want to gather the most reliable data possible. It’s akin to how a passionate cyclist or trail runner records their physiological data in life and during their workouts.
Therefore, you should enjoy training, enjoy using the beam. And be curious about your own physiological functioning and how you will react to different forms of stress. To get the most out of MySmartBoard, you should also have the desire to experiment and explore training avenues. This will undoubtedly lead to progress in all aspects.
Regarding the price of MySmartBoard, currently available for pre-sale at €625 excluding taxes. It may seem relatively high at first glance. However, remember that the data this tool provides is extremely precise and validated. To make a comparison, just look at the prices for a serious energy measurement watch for physical activities. You will see that the price of the board falls within a certain standard. Furthermore, you can create up to 4 accounts on MySmartBoard. So it is entirely possible to share this type of purchase, either privately or within an association.