Neat or Nasty?: At Westin Hotels, Guests Can Borrow Workout Gear

Does that fact that the sneakers and clothes have been worn (and sweat in) by strangers irk anyone else just a little?

I’m on a press trip this week (howdy from Nashville!) and saw this commercial on the in-flight TV no less than four times on the way down here:

Looks like the Westin has teamed up with New Balance to make staying healthy while you travel a tad easier. Interesting, right? My health-and-fitness-editor radar kicked right in.

So when I got to my hotel, I did some Googling. Here’s how the collabo works: When you check in to select Westin properties, you can rent (“borrow” might be a better word) New Balance workout gear for $5 for the duration of your stay. The hotels have sneakers for men and women, plus a tech shirt and shorts for guys, and capri-length tights, a sports bra and tech shirt for women. A new, unused pair of socks is also included and is yours to keep. When you check out, you just leave the dirty clothes in a laundry bag in the room. Done and done.

I have to be honest: I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I applaud the idea—or at least the theory behind the idea—and the consorted effort. Packing workout clothes can be a big ol’ pain, especially in this day and age of exorbitant baggage fees when all you dare to bring on a trip is one measly (read: tiny) carry-on. I mean, have you ever tried packing a pair of running shoes in one of those things? Unless you’re lucky enough to use Vibrams, you’re talking about some serious bulk; it’s like a jigsaw puzzle just to cram them in.

Then there’s the dilemma about what to do about repacking your filthy, smelly, thoroughly sweat-soaked gym clothes for the return trip. You can throw them in a plastic bag, of course, but sometimes that results more bulk, adding another layer of jigsaw madness to your packing strategy.

And besides, you know I’m all about finding ways to make working out easier and more convenient. How else are we going to get the rest of Philadelphia to drink the fitness Kool Aid? (Oh shoot, I just spilled the beans on my master plan!)

But, well, on the other hand … am I outing myself as the unapologetic germaphobe that I am by pointing out that using shoes and clothes a stranger has sweat in is kinda nasty? The clothes, at least, can be washed (on hot, I hope), but those shoes—surely they’re not being put through the spin cycle after every use. So does this entire arrangement strike anyone else as, well, utterly disgusting?

This is a serious question, and I’d like to hear your thoughts: Would you wear workout clothes countless strangers have sweat in just to lighten your load on a trip? Sound off in the comments.