February 16, 2022 3 min read

Ariana Berlin is an American gymnast, dancer, and actress. She is best known for her incredible recovery after a terrible car accident - which didn’t hold her back from becoming the stellar athlete she always wanted to be.

Ariana is one of the most successful gymnasts in the history of UCLA Bruins, has worked for many TV shows, and even had a movie made after her inspiring story.  

Bright beginnings

Ariana Alyse Berlin was born in San Diego, California, on October 29, 1987. From a very young age, she knew she wanted to be a gymnast. Her parents, Howard and Susan Berlin, supported her goals, and signed her up for classes straight away. 

Ariana Berlin began training at South Coast Gymnastics and Southern California Elite Gym with the hopes of becoming a world-class gymnast. She was the runner-up for uneven bars at the 1999 Western National Championships, and became the Level 9 all-around champion. 

Berlin was well on her way to elite status when her life was changed in the blink of an eye. 

 

The day that changed it all 

One fateful day in 2001, while taking a shopping trip with her mother, Ariana’s dreams were swept out from under her. She and her mother were driving down the freeway when another car came barreling into them. The impact launched their car into a frenzied roll, and then a screeching halt. 

They were rushed to the hospital where Ariana was forced to stay in an induced coma for five days. She had suffered a broken wrist, broken leg, broken collarbone, and multiple broken ribs - which had punctured and collapsed both of her lungs. 

The outlook was bleak. When Ariana next awoke, she was told she would never be able to compete as a gymnast again.  

Dancing through the rain

Ariana Berlin was completely heartbroken that her dreams had been torn away from her, but after recovery, she quickly found a new way to stay active. Ariana started taking break-dance classes, and became the youngest member of the “Culture Shock” dance troupe in San Diego. 

Ariana performed as a dancer and b-girl for three years at Sea World. It was there that she met the head coach of UCLA Bruins gymnastics, Coach Val, who was choreographing their dance routines.

Realizing that her gymnastics dream had never really died, Ariana Berlin asked if she could be a walk-on for UCLA. Coach Val was impressed with Ariana’s determination, so she readily agreed.

 

Return to gymnastics

At the age of 17, Ariana Berlin joined the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team as a walk-on. Although she had persistent pain due to the metal rod in her leg, she never missed a single meet. She hit 50 of her 52 routines, and was the Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year. 

Berlin became a regular competitor in the all around, and had five top-three finishes. The next year, she competed with a scholarship, becoming a four-time All-American and one of UCLA’s most consistent athletes of all time - hitting 175 of her 182 career routines.  

A star is born

Ariana’s numerous talents have helped her shine both in and out of the gym. Her incredible comeback story was turned into a motion picture called “Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie” - which she acted in herself as a UCLA coach. 

Ariana has also worked as a stunt double and stunt performer in numerous TV shows, including “Switched at Birth,” “Honey 2,” “Greek,” “The Fosters,” “Three Rivers,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “90210,” “Make It or Break It,” and “Shake It Up.” 

Ariana Berlin even worked as an associate producer for two documentaries: “89 Blocks” and “Shot In the Dark.” Her incredible work and dedication simply go to show that if you truly set your mind to it, you can achieve your dream no matter the obstacle - and you may even achieve a handful of them. 



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